by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
As if Boston officials don’t have enough real challenges to deal with, it seems some are concerned that too many people are benefitting from ride sharing in Boston –– about 96,000 each day in 2017, according to the Boston Globe. That can’t be a good thing, right? So what is the right thing to do? Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has an idea: make it more expensive to get a ride (emphasis below is mine).
Meanwhile, recent research showing that ride-hailing is leading to greater congestion on city streets has caused some officials and advocates to call for higher fees to discourage so many trips.
“While certainly [ride-hail companies] are creating value for our constituents, and people are using them significantly, they are also putting more cars on the street during rush hour, they are taking revenue away from the MBTA, and they’re resulting in greater emissions in the Commonwealth,” said Chris Osgood, Boston’s chief of streets.
Osgood said the fee should vary based on whether a trip is causing more traffic.
The ‘problem,’ as city officials see it, is that Uber and Lyft are clearly viewed as a better deal than the city’s transit system. Rather than accepting the market signal, improving service, or reducing transit routes/options due to lower demand, city officials instead want to penalize the ride-sharing services. Looks like higher prices are on the way.
In Raleigh, it’s scooters that city officials view as a revenue stream. Now it will cost more to hop on a Bird scooter, and the company isn’t shy about why they’ve hiked the price.
The California-based company has added a $2 transportation fee — on top of the $1 needed to unlock the scooters and 15 cents per minute to ride — because of increased fees and regulations from the city of Raleigh. Riders were notified through an email and when they clicked on the app.
“Unfortunately, the Raleigh City Council [has] implemented new regulations resulting in huge fees on alternative forms of mobility in the city,” Bird said in the email. “Paying a premium for environmentally friendly transportation is not acceptable. Please take a moment to tell the council to repeal this unreasonable fee.”