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Uber, Lyft On Board With Proposed Ride Tax In San Francisco

Holly Quan
May 21, 2019 - 11:00 am

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber and Lyft have been blamed for the traffic problems that plague San Francisco, and now, a city supervisor wants the companies and their riders to pay to clean up the mess that he says they helped create. 

Supervisor Aaron Peskin's proposal would make San Francisco the first city in California to slap a tax on the fares riders pay for Uber and Lyft.

As it turns out, both companies appear to be on board with the idea.

The plan could raise up to $32 million per year to fund new bike lanes, Muni driver salaries and other transportation projects. 

"Uber and Lyft, and the folks that use Uber and Lyft, need to pay their fair share, to help pave our streets and have traffic enforcement and pedestrian safety improvements," said Peskin. "It's a modest per ride surcharge."

Related: Uber And Lyft Are Increasing Traffic Congestion On San Francisco Streets, Study Says

He'd originally wanted to tax the companies' gross receipts, which would have covered everything from fares and tolls to airport fees and driver tips - but backed off in order to get the companies' support.

The plan would now tax net fares only at 1.5% to 3.25%, based on the kind of ride. 

"Portland has it, Massachusetts has it, New York has it, cities around the world have a surcharge on Uber and Lyft rides," Peskin said. "We would be the first in the state of California if the voters see fit to approve it."

Peskin will introduce the proposal at Tuesday's board meeting. He hopes it will be placed on the November ballot. 

Business groups like the Bay Area Council, which normally look askance at this type of proposal, are supporting Peskin's plan, because, they say, Uber and Lyft had a part in crafting it.

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