Uber, Lyft agree to San Francisco ride revenue tax

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have agreed to allow the city of San Francisco to tax a percentage of their net ride revenues, according to Supervisor Aaron Peskin.

The ride-hail tax will go toward paying for transportation infrastructure and operations throughout the city.

The agreement was announced this afternoon, just before supervisors were set to vote on Peskin's proposed general gross receipts business tax measure. In light of the agreement, Peskin withdrew the measure, which would have placed the decision to tax the ride-hailing companies in front of voters in the November elections.

"This is a win-win for everyone," Peskin said in a statement. "We have a $100 million local funding obligation to meet the transportation demands of a growing city. Voters have made it clear that they want corporations to pay their fair share to meet that need, particularly when there is a nexus to issues like congestion and traffic. I'm optimistic that this concession on the part of the TNC's (transportation network companies) signals a shift in their corporate culture and willingness to work with - not 
fight with - local governments," he said.

Mayor London Breed said in a statement, "I am pleased that an agreement has been reached with rideshare companies to institute a per-ride charge and avoid a divisive ballot measure.

"This will create a dedicated source of revenue to alleviate congestion, improve the condition of our roads, and keep San Francisco moving. I look forward to working with our state representatives and the Board of Supervisors to pass legislation to implement this agreement," she said.

The agreement would apply a 3.25 percent tax rate to single-use rides and a 1.5 percent tax rate to shared carpool rides to all ride-hailing service companies. Autonomous vehicles would be included in the tax, once they are permitted to begin charging for rides.

The tax would end in 2045, Peskin's office said.

The tax is expected to bring in about $30 million in the first few years. The tax revenue would remitted to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

"San Francisco streets are more congested and crowded than ever. As we build more housing and add more jobs in San Francisco, we must invest in public transit and transportation infrastructure so we can move more people around our city in the fastest and safest way possible. We need the additional revenue to make these critical transportation investments and improvements," Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said in a statement.

"These revenues can help build out our transit, biking and pedestrian networks and support vital Vision Zero safety initiatives. While there is still a ways to go, this is a critical first step and commitment on 
behalf of both the public and private sectors," Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, said in a statement.

According to a study by Chang's agency, Uber and Lyft together average about 82 million trips yearly. In addition, between 80 and 90 percent of ride-hailing service drivers come from outside the city.

Furthermore, 26 percent of trips during peak hour commute times are made by ride-hailing service drivers in the city's most transit-rich areas.

"Uber is pleased to reach an agreement that will bring dedicated transportation funding to San Francisco," Alex Randolph, Uber's policy lead in Northern California, said in a statement.

"Lyft is focused on improving transportation in cities and we recognize the importance of reliable transportation in San Francisco," Lyft official Brian McGuigan said in a statement. "We are glad to have arrived at a solution that will help keep rideshare convenient and affordable."

Supervisor Peskin is co-chair of the city's Transportation Task Force 2045, which has identified a need for $22 billion over the next 27 years for critical transit infrastructure and service, in addition to 
pedestrian and bicycle safety facilities.

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