Uber puts its money behind congestion pricing

Yellow and Green Cab drivers protesting last year outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Midtown office against the congestion charge for Manhattan drivers.
Yellow and Green Cab drivers protesting last year outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Midtown office against the congestion charge for Manhattan drivers.
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Yellow and Green Cab drivers protesting last year outside of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Midtown office against the congestion charge for Manhattan drivers.

Uber puts its money behind congestion pricing

The ride-hail app has spent $1 million in its campaign to pass congestion pricing
March 14, 2019

Despite New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio getting on board with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s congestion pricing proposal for Manhattan’s central business district, the plan to fund the ailing Metropolitan Transportation Authority by enacting a toll for drivers entering Manhattan below 61st Street still faces some pushback from within the state Legislature – particularly from suburban lawmakers whose constituents would likely be most affected when driving into the city.

But one of congestion pricing’s staunchest advocates is ramping up its efforts ahead of the state’s April 1 budget deadline. Uber has spent $1 million since last November in its campaign to help pass congestion pricing. Most recently, the ride-hail company funded an ad from the advocacy group Fix Our Transit that ran into the mid-six figures.

Uber, along with other app-based ride-hail services, was hit with a one-year moratorium on new licenses for their vehicles last summer in order for the city to study the companies’ effect on increasing congestion in Manhattan. As the market leader, Uber is increasingly blamed for the problem. Along with Uber’s move to sue the city over the cap last month, it makes sense that the company is now bolstering its support of congestion pricing. Fewer commuter cars in the city would mean more business for ride-hail vehicles, and if the proposal actually succeeds in decreasing congestion, Uber could use its success to argue the cap on new for-hire app-based vehicles should be lifted because their vehicles are not the cause of the problem

Taxis and for-hire vehicles, it should be noted, have already been hit with a congestion surcharge for rides below 96th Street in Manhattan. “Congestion pricing is the only serious solution to reduce congestion and invest in mass transit, and it’s great that the Legislature made steps in the right direction toward passing the governor and mayor’s plan,” Uber spokesman Harry Hartfield wrote in an email. “All users of Manhattan’s congested roads – whether it’s a personal vehicle, delivery truck, taxi or Uber – should pay their fair share.”

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Annie McDonough
Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.
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