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Planning Musings

Fund 24-Hr. Buses with Uber/Lyft Congestion Charge

Email I sent to the DC Council President, Ward 2 Councilmember, and At-Large Councilmembers on April 27, 2023 to support a proposed congestion charge on Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft.

Dear Councilmembers,

I am writing as a Ward 2 resident to express my strong support for Councilmember Nadeau’s proposal to add a $2 congestion charge on Transportation Network Company (TNC) trips to and from downtown during weekday rush hours. This measure is an important step to reduce congestion, improve quality of life for downtown residents and visitors, and fund 24-hour buses to ensure that hospitality workers have an affordable way home.[1]

According to a recent study by MIT that examined the operations of Uber and Lyft in DC and other cities, these services both increase congestion and decrease public transit ridership. Further, the researchers found that at least 40.8 percent of TNC vehicle miles are deadhead miles—the distances drivers travel without passengers in between rides.[2]

This congestion has several negative effects, including longer commute times, increased air pollution, and reduced quality of life for residents who have to deal with the noise and stress of congested roads. By implementing a $2 congestion charge on TNC trips during weekday rush hours, we can help reduce these negative effects while also generating vital revenue to invest in public transportation.

We are fortunate to have a robust public transportation network. People can easily avoid the congestion charge by opting to ride the Metro or bus, which offer their highest service frequencies during rush hour, are more affordable than TNCs, and contribute less to congestion and carbon emissions.

I urge you to support this initiative and work with your colleagues to make it a reality. We can and should take this meaningful step to address traffic congestion in our city and create a better, more livable city.

Thank you for your consideration.

[1] Hayes, L. “Hospitality Workers Struggle to Find Reliable, Affordable Ways Home.” Washington City Paper. 24 May 2021. https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/517639/hospitality-workers-struggle-to-find-reliable-affordable-transportation/

[2] Diao, M., Kong, H., & Zhao, J. “Impacts of Transportation Network Companies on Urban Mobility”. Nat Sustain 4, 494-500 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-00678-z



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