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Categories: News

Tax on Uber, Lyft Rides Squeaks By — For Now

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A measure to tax Uber and Lyft rides to battle congestion has just barely enough votes to pass, as of the latest election results on Thursday.

Proposition D captured 67 percent of the votes, pushing it over the two-thirds majority needed to pass. The measure places a 3.25 percent surcharge on individual rideshare rides and 1.5 percent tax on shared rides or for zero-emissions vehicles starting in January 2020 and sunsets in 2045.

It’s anticipated to generate up to $35 million annually.

Revenue would be placed in a Traffic Congestion Mitigation Fund, half of which would go toward the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority to make the system reliable, meet demands for capacity, and maintain infrastructure. The other half would head to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority to plan and design capital improvement projects.

This is to offset the congestion brought on by the onslaught of rideshare trips — more than 170,000 in the city on a typical weekday. This accounts for about 15 percent of all vehicle trips within city borders, as of late 2016. At peak periods, they’re estimated to be up to 26 percent of trips downtown and around South of Market,

The measure was put forward by Supervisor Aaron Peskin and was initially opposed by Uber and Lyft. After months of negotiations, compromise was reached to deem it a surcharge instead of gross receipts tax on companies themselves and an expensive war of campaigns was avoided. Uber and Lyft even funded much of the campaign to pass it.

But having Uber and Lyft stamped at the bottom of political advertisements for the measure may have had voters suspicious of it, noted Golden Gate University professor and local election expert Jon Golinger on election night.

On Wednesday, the measure had 66.66 percent of the vote and has slowly ticked up as more votes come in. Though a setback in “YES” votes has not materialized, it’s not out of the question. But ardent supporters should be grateful it’s not experience the same swings as candidates for District Attorney and District 5 supervisor.

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Ida Mojadad

Ida Mojadad is a reporter at SF Weekly, often covering politics, housing and transportation. Her words can also be found in the Orange County Register, KQED (NPR), Faribault Daily News, Northfield News and SF Examiner. You can reach her at (415)-359-2728 or by email at imojadad@sfweekly.com.

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