If approved by two-thirds of voters at the ballot box, the tax would impose a 3.25% surcharge on all individual rides and a 1.5% surcharge on shared rides that originate in the city. Rides in electric vehicles (EVs) would have a surcharge of 1.5%, regardless of whether they are individual or shared, in order to encourage the use of EVs. The tax would go into effect on January 1, 2020, if passed.
The measure, introduced by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, would generate an estimated $35 million a year for the city, to be spent on transit and street safety projects. It also has the support of both Uber and Lyft, which collaborated with Peskin and Mayor London Breed on drafting the plan.
If passed, this surcharge on ride-hailing would be another bold city-level step in trying to get a handle on congestion and a continuously disruptive industry. It follows in the footsteps of cities like Chicago, which imposed a ride-hailing tax in 2015 and increased the tax in 2018 to fund public transit initiatives, and Washington, DC, which approved a 5% ride-hailing tax last summer to fund the Metro transit system.
The moves in San Francisco are not as wide-reaching as New York City’s regulations on ride-hailing, however, which implemented a minimum wage for drivers and froze the issuing of new ride-hailing licenses for drivers among other initiatives. Those regulations, approved last summer, inspired similar efforts in other major cities.