For Immediate Release: Thursday, January 17, 2019
New legislation aims to curb congestion, promote carpooling
BOSTON – Representatives from Boston, Cambridge, and Lynn are joining together with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to call for higher fees on ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft as a way to reduce traffic and congestion in the region and raise revenue for municipalities to invest in transportation projects.
Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), Representative Jay Livingstone (D-Boston and Cambridge), and Representative Adrian Madaro (D-Boston) filed legislation this week to increase the fees imposed on so-called Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), which are currently set at 20 cents per ride.
“An Act to reduce traffic and encourage shared rides” (SD1214) and “An Act to reduce congestion and encourage shared rides” (HD 1915) would create a fee structure of 6.25 percent of each ride for single-rider trips, or 4.25 percent for shared trips, to encourage more users to choose carpooling for such trips and to help reduce traffic on local roads. The revenue would be distributed in the same way as the current 20 cent fee – with half going to the municipality from which the ride originated, and the rest split between the state and a fund to help the taxi industry.
Additionally, the legislation would encourage the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to update data requirements imposed on TNCs, in an effort to give local and state officials better access to trip information on Uber and Lyft that could help improve the entire transportation network. With access to this data, public agencies and officials will be in a better position to make informed planning, policy, operation, and infrastructure investment decisions.
This newly proposed legislation would go beyond just the fee increases, to allow the 14 closest-to-Boston municipalities with transit service to add a $2.25 fee during MBTA service hours, equivalent to the cost of a rail ride. These funds would be dedicated for municipal investment in public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian investments, and electric vehicle charging stations.
The City of Boston last week proposed taxing Uber and Lyft at higher rates as a way of promoting walking and transit ridership. According to the DPU, about 96,000 ride-hailing trips start each day in Boston alone.
“As traffic congestion continues to get worse and worse, we must think outside of the box to find solutions,” said Senator Crighton “Our bill would encourage commuters to share rides and use public transit, while at the same time bringing our ride-hailing fees in line with the rest of the country.”
“I am excited to propose this bill to address the significant congestion facing our neighborhoods by discouraging single user rideshare services and encouraging shared rides as well as public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian investments, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” said Representative Livingstone.
“Rideshares need to pay their fair share,” said Representative Madaro. “As services like Uber and Lyft contribute to a dramatic increase in congestion on neighborhood streets, overhauling the fee structure will allow us to promote alternative modes of transportation, fund infrastructure, and incentivize more shared rides.”
“Ride-hailing companies are adding more and more car trips to our roadways, leading to more double parking, increased traffic, and a reduction in trips via transit. We want people to have choices about how they get around, but we also have to account for the very real costs of congestion and the financial impact on the MBTA. These are impacts that affect everyone,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of MAPC. “The legislation passed in 2016 to impose fees and offset the costs of additional traffic was a good start, but we now need to take a closer look at that fee structure to make sure we are doing everything we can to reduce congestion, to ensure public safety, to encourage shared rides, and to support the MBTA.”
In 2018, MAPC released a first-in-the nation analysis of the impacts TNCs are having on the region. It found that most riders of Uber and Lyft were replacing a trip that would otherwise have taken place on the MBTA, and that ride-hailing was contributing to an uptick in congestion across Greater Boston.
For more information, and to view MAPC’s study on the effects of ride-hailing on the region, visit https://www.mapc.org/farechoices/.
Director of Government Affairs
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Chief of Staff, Senator Brendan Crighton
Legislative Aide, Representative Adrian Madaro
Legislative Aid, Representative Jay Livingstone