A New York state judge in Manhattan has temporarily blocked imposition of a new surcharge on taxis and ride-hailing vehicles that was to go into effect next month in a bid to limit traffic congestion in New York City and raise money for mass transit.
The congestion surcharge, which was enacted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and the New York State Assembly, would have raised the price of taking a Lyft or a taxi by at least $2.50 in Lower Manhattan as of Jan. 1, but a group of drivers took legal action to halt it. The court also set a hearing for Jan. 3 to determine whether its restraining order should be continued, according to NBC Channel 4 in New York.
The ruling comes as U.S. cities, including the District, debate whether to follow European counterparts in driving up the cost of driving inside cities as a way of lowering the number of cars. In June, the D.C. Council voted to raise the cost of using ride-hailing as a way of raising money to pay for the city’s portion of Metro’s dedicated regional funding. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and the Greater Washington Partnership have also called for congestion-tolling in the District as part of a regional effort to reduce traffic and make the city safer for bikes and pedestrians.
The Independent Drivers Guild, which represents more than 70,000 Uber, Lyft and other app-based drivers in New York, praised Thursday’s ruling. The drivers had fought the surcharge — $2.75 for all ride-hailing drivers and $2.50 for taxis — saying that they can barely make a living as it is, thanks to the fees and taxes already imposed on their service. Taken together, a person would have to pay $5.03 just in taxes and surcharges to use Lyft. The total would be $3.30 for taxis, the IDG said.
“It might be the most expensive seat in town that doesn’t include a movie or a show,” the Daily News wrote.
“Uber and Lyft drivers and riders are working people who already pay more than $260 million per year in sales tax,” IDG spokeswoman Moira Muntz said in a written statement. “We cannot afford another tax.”
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