Vancouver Planning to Charge a Congestion Fee to Uber and Lyft Users

According to a report by the Vancouver Sun, the City of Vancouver is exploring the possibility of charging a ‘congestion fee’ to users of Uber and Lyft, in addition to other taxes and on top of what companies charge their passengers.

Dubbed “mobility fees”, the charge is aimed at fighting congestion in high-traffic areas and peak travel times, particularly downtown. The idea was outlined in a staff presentation to the Vancouver council earlier this week, although the regulations to govern ride-hailing in B.C. have not yet been finalized.

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This week’s report proposes allowing the city or Metro “future opportunities for road user charges to best manage mobility outcomes (and) minimize congestion”. The report warns that services like Uber and Lyft can potentially reverse Vancouver’s current trend of decreasing vehicle kilometres travelled per capita:

“Additionally, the frequent pickup and drop-off activity caused by ride-hailing may lead to increased congestion caused by illegal stopping in travel lanes, bike lanes and transit stops. Among other effects, increased congestion impedes transit service, increases carbon emissions, and slows the movement of goods,” the report says.

A city official said several other North American cities “charge per-trip transportation network company fees,” including New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, and Portland. 

The B.C. NDP previously told British Columbians they should be able to use ride-hailing services by this fall. Legislation was passed back in November, paving the way for Lyft and Uber to possibly debut in late 2019.

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