Now is the time for the new council to consider a ‘congestion charge’ when (if?) it licences Uber and other ride-hailing companies to operate on city streets.*
The two ride-hailing giants provided more than 91,000 rides on an average day in the second quarter of this year, according to ridership reports the companies filed with the city, recently made publicly available for the first time.
While that’s just a fraction of daily travel in the Seattle region, Uber and Lyft trips are heavily concentrated in the city’s densest neighborhoods, where nearly 40,000 rides a day start in ZIP codes covering downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union and Capitol Hill. They are almost certainly contributing to worsening congestion. …
The data show that ridesharing is most popular in the neighborhoods ringing Lake Union (Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford), many of which also have higher rates of car ownership.… this is an area where the Durkan administration has the right idea. Decongestion pricing – which Uber already supports! – will put a thumb on the scale in favor of other modes of transportation, allow traffic to move more freely, and generate revenue that can support more and better public transit.
Back in 2015, the city prepared a report for the City Council on what initial ridership numbers looked like and how the city and county should handle the growing number of Ubers and Lyfts.
Uber and Lyft filed suit to keep their data secret and the report was never made public. The report is marked “do not distribute” and “attorney eyes only,” and the data is marked “confidential.” The companies only relented in September, following a Supreme Court ruling this year that went against them. …
… in a court filing before (Lyft) dropped its legal challenges, Todd Kelsay, the company’s Pacific Northwest general manager, said that releasing ridership data could drive Lyft out of Seattle. Releasing the ridership data, Kelsay argued, could “lead to fewer jobs, less economic development and reduced investment in the local community.”
The data was released in September. Lyft has not, to date, left the Seattle market.