As London's Uber drivers prepare today to protest against TfL, who have introduced the Congestion Charge for all Private Hire Drivers, it's emerged that in New York, it was in fact Uber who lobbied for the charge to be introduced in Manhattan.
As their drivers prepare to demonstrate on London Bridge today, organisers are hoping that this time the Uber drivers can actually find London Bridge as last time they held a demonstration there, the drivers actually turned up on Tower bridge.
Uber was the biggest backer of a campaign pushing for congestion charging in New York City, emerging as an unlikely champion of a levy on vehicles in US cities grappling with how to deal with heavy car traffic clogging the streets and contributing to pollution.
The US car-booking app group, which spent $2m lobbying for the levy that will come into place in two years, had also backed previous unsuccessful efforts to pass congestion charges.
The New York congestion charge, which is expected to raise billions of dollars to fund the city’s ailing public transport systems, was successfully adopted into the state budget at the weekend.
Minicab apps such as Uber and rival Lyft have been accused of putting more cars on the road and undermining public transport across the country. San Francisco’s county transportation authority has blamed car-booking servicesfor half of the rise in the city’s congestion between 2010 and 2016.
The companies have opted for congestion pricing as their preferred solution rather than taxing car-booking or limiting the number of cars on the road. Uber sued New York in February over a cap on for-hire vehicle licences the city council passed last year.
“Long term, what we’re working for is a system that helps people understand the impact of driving a car into the congested core of a city,” said Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy. “New York is an important moment in time but it’s also part of a broader strategy.”
During the New York campaign, Uber lobbied lawmakers, ran television ads and contributed $700,000 to the advocacy group Fix Our Transit, more than the Real Estate Board of New York, which put in $500,000. In September Uber committed $10m over three years to support what it calls “sustainable mobility” by advocating for congestion charges as well as better parking regulations.
Lyft is also backing congestion pricing schemes, contributing $75,000 to the New York campaign.
In contrast, New York’s taxi drivers have opposed congestion pricing, arguing it puts even more strain on them while they handle disruption from rivals.
“[Uber] knows it’s better for everyone if traffic is moving faster than 4.7 miles per hour . . . They are acknowledging that they have a role in congestion but also want to be part of the solution,” said Julie Tighe, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, which backed the congestion charging campaign.
Raising the cost of driving a car into midtown Manhattan or other central parts of cities has counterintuitive benefits for Uber and its peers. Less traffic means shorter wait times for passengers. They are also betting on a broader shift away from private car ownership to other forms of transportation they offer, including shared rides, bikes and scooters, and to public transit. Uber says many customers combine an Uber trip with the bus or subway.
“What we see around the world is users of Uber tend to be heavier than average transit users,” said Mr Salzberg
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :