Uber supports fair and equitable congestion pricing for all road users.
For four years, for hire vehicles have already been contributing to congestion pricing to support public transit while no other vehicle has contributed a penny. Since February 2019, taxi and for-hire-vehicle trips are assessed a congestion surcharge ($2.50 for taxi & $2.75 for FHVs like Uber) on any trip that starts, ends or travels through Manhattan south of 96th St. — a fee projected to raise $393 million for the MTA annually and one that was sold as phase I of congestion pricing. This fee will continue after congestion pricing for other vehicles is implemented and, per state law, must legally be considered when the MTA determines additional toll prices. In fact, the enabling legislation instructs the MTA to “implement a plan to address credits, discounts, and/or exemptions for for-hire vehicles… subject to [the existing] surcharge.” Even if you believe a small second toll on Taxi and FHVs is needed, the existing surcharge must be taken into account when determining a new charge. Unlike personal vehicle owners, Amazon delivery trucks, or any other vehicle on the road – taxis and FHV have, and will continue, to have to pay the existing per trip congestion toll to the MTA.
We’ve long supported road pricing in New York City, and even in other cities where it is less popular. In 2017, we aired the first of many broadcast TV ads that called for congestion pricing and hammered the state of subway service drawing the ire of then-congestion pricing opponent, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who controlled the MTA. We spent millions of dollars funding message testing, research, lobbyists and grassroots organizing to help those that have been fighting for congestion pricing for decades.
We always expected, and even called for, all road users, including those who utilize Uber, to be charged. Vehicles that aren’t charged will fill up space left by those that are, which is partly why in New York, during the pandemic, trips taken in vehicles for hire (FHVs and taxis) dropped significantly, but traffic got worse. A near record increase in personal vehicles and e-commerce deliveries replaced vehicles for hire.
Uber supports congestion pricing, including on our own trips, to fund mass transit infrastructure. We do this because we are a for-profit company and good, robust, public transportation is good for business, reducing the need for car ownership and increasing use cases for Uber. Congestion that slows travel times and frustrates riders and drivers is bad for business. In fact, our top cities are ones where robust public transportation options serve as the backbone of a daily commute.
Many of our customers don’t own or have access to a personal vehicle and rely mainly on public transit or safe biking infrastructure: A business traveler on a trip from another city. A college student who wants to go out safely at night. And a New Yorker who relies on mass transit or safe biking infrastructure for the vast majority of their transportation needs, but wants to take an Uber after an especially long day, when they have too much to carry, or are going out for a special occasion. Without safe, reliable, public transportation, New Yorkers buy cars — and once that happens, they use them more.
In the past we have argued for an additional per trip fee, with trips that both start and end in the zone paying more than trips with only one end in the zone. With the MTA & FHWA insisting on a once a day per vehicle fee as the implementation of congestion pricing moves to the next phase, that may be impossible. However, it’s still incumbent on the MTA to follow the law, and factor in the existing Taxi & FHV congestion surcharge.