- The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) will discuss adding a tax to ride-hailing trips at a board meeting today, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- Metro staff would like the board of directors to approve a study about instating a ride-hailing tax, along with one on congestion pricing, according to a Metro blog post. If approved, the ride-hailing tax could help to ease congestion and contribute to the Re-Imagining L.A. County plan, Metro says. That plan includes the "28 by '28 initiative," which seeks to fund 28 highway and transit projects, worth $42.9 billion, ahead of Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Summer Olympics.
- Even if the board approves the ride-hailing tax study, the initiative is in its early stages and would require further action from the board to move forward with the tax. The tax would not be implemented until next year, at the earliest, and the board would aim to start congestion pricing at the same time. Metro is reportedly examining other funding sources as well, including potential fees on bike- and scooter-sharing trips.
Several other large cities have implemented programs to tax ride-sharing trips, including New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, DC. Last year, Chicago implemented a 15-cent per-ride fee in addition to the existing 52-cent per-ride fee to fund improvements to its transit system. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel justified the tax by claiming that the ride-hailing industry has stripped the metropolitan region of $40 million, partially by luring riders away from transit.
Another aspect the board intends to discuss is how the tax and congestion pricing would affect low-income citizens. A criticism is the extra fees would make more than one transportation option less affordable for low-income residents. However, that sector of the population already is more likely to use public transit because of its affordability compared with driving or using ride-hailing.
Metro has extensively discussed congestion pricing at past meetings. Although there is some support for the tolling, there is also skepticism about public acceptance. Plus, one board member pointed out that her constituents don't feel there are enough viable transit options to serve as alternatives to driving. That lack of a robust transit system has been a longtime sticking point in LA and contributes to citizens being car dependent. The trickle-down effect leads to Los Angeles consistently ranking as one of the country's most congested and smog-prone cities.
The transportation system in Los Angeles has been getting a lot of upgrades both as part of 28 by '28 and separate from it. Rail will undergo rapid expansion over the next decade, the city's Department of Transportation proposed expanding bike-share, Metro commissioned an app for transit fare payment, the city is going to try microtransit as a new mobility option and Metro announced its intention to convert to an all-electric bus fleet by 2030.