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Lightfoot's Rideshare Fee Plan Improves Equity, But Why Not Tax Uber and Lyft Directly?
The Chicago Reporter | November 13, 2019
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed congestion fee for rideshare companies is being called regressive by Uber and its supporters — including some ministers who participated in a previous Uber campaign that Streetsblog Chicago characterized as “astroturfing.”
But transportation advocates who earlier called on Lightfoot to include equity concerns in planning around congestion pricing don’t agree. Elizabeth Irvin, transportation director at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, says the new fee structure “is a more equitable structure than the current system.”
Contrary to a new poll by a coalition opposing the congestion fees that includes Uber and Lyft, the new fee structure would not in fact “harm the city’s African American and Latino communities the most.”
That’s because the new fee structure reduces the ground transportation tax slightly for shared rides in neighborhoods and wheelchair users and raises it for solo rides and for downtown rides during periods of congestion. That means the great bulk of new revenue will come from rideshare users in affluent areas – areas where the great bulk of rideshare trips occur, and areas that are also particularly congested but feature lots of public transit alternatives.
According to CNT, 71% of solo rides begin or end on the North Side, Loop, Near West Side, or Logan Square, while according to the city, most South and West Side users opt for a shared ride. Indeed, a city study found that in much of the West Side, the proportion of users taking solo trips ranges from 32% to 43%. And about 90% of South and West Side trips do not go downtown.
CNT estimates that average fees will increase by 25 to 50 cents in most of the South and West Sides, compared with average increases of more than $2 for downtown rides. Of course, the fee is intended to encourage more users to opt for shared rides – or if they’re downtown, to use public transit – so the increase in the neighborhoods is likely to be lower.
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