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Boston mayor wants better management of ride-sharing services

Mayor Martin Walsh says the city has to find ways to make ride-share part of sustainable and equitable transportation systems.

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Boston wants to align transportation network companies with its mobility goals
Boston wants to align transportation network companies with its mobility goals

Boston wants to bring in new legislation to further address congestion in the city by, for instance, imposing a per-mile fee on ride-hailing services which are travelling with no passengers during peak hours and making additional investment in public transit and infrastructure.

 

Martin Walsh, mayor of Boston, offered testimony before the Joint Committee on Financial Services at the Massachusetts State House in support of his bill that seeks to better align transportation network companies (TNCs), like Uber and Lyft, with the city’s mobility goals.

 

Additional revenue

 

The additional revenue generated would be invested in local roads and transit, including projects that make Boston’s streets better for people who walk, bike, drive or take transit.

 

“Transportation network companies have changed the way people travel. In some ways, they’ve made things more convenient but they’ve also increased congestion and added to the emissions that harm air quality and cause climate change,” said Walsh.

 

“We have to find ways to make ride-shares part of a sustainable and equitable transportation system, and this bill would help us do that.”

 

One proposal in An act relative to transortation network company rider assessments would change the current per-trip assessment charged to TNCs operating in Massachusetts to better align it with the city’s and commonwealth’s efforts to tackle congestion and lower emissions:

  • incentivising shared trips: passengers would be charged 6.25 per cent of the total fare for single-occupancy trips and 3 per cent of the total fare for shared trips. Half of the revenue would go to the city or town in which the miles were driven, and the other half would go to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and MassDevelopment;
  • reducing congestion: TNCs would be charged a per-mile fee of 20 cents for all miles travelled with no passengers during peak hours. Half of the revenue would go to the city or town in which the miles were driven, and the other half would go to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and MassDevelopment;
  • reducing carbon emissions: all zero-emission vehicles would be exempt from the peak hour charge.

In 2017 and 2018, more than 34 million and 42 million ride-share trips originated in Boston respectively. Currently, TNCs pay an assessment of 20 cents per ride that is distributed among municipalities, the commonwealth’s general transportation fund, and the taxi and livery industry.

“We have to find ways to make ride-shares part of a sustainable and equitable transportation system, and this bill would help us do that”

Boston allocated the funds received from 2017 trips to increase street safety, including the improvement of sidewalks, markings and intersections; improving the reliability of the network with smarter signals and kerb management, and; expanding access to transportation choices by enhancing the city’s bike-share programme.

 

“As the TNC industry has grown it has become clear that in urban areas the service has increased congestion – particularly during rush hours – and as a consequence carbon emissions,” added representative Michael Moran, one of the act sponsors.

 

“I am pleased to join mayor Walsh and senator [Joseph] Boncore in support of this bill which will promote shared trips to reduce congestion while also encouraging the use of zero emission vehicles.”

 

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