Uber, Lyft, Taxi Rides into Manhattan Get Slapped with New Surcharge

As if New Yorkers needed something else to complain about.

byStephen Edelstein|

As part of the budget passed by the New York legislature Friday, lawmakers approved a new surcharge for ride-hailing services and taxis driving into Manhattan. Services like Uber and Lyft face a surcharge of $2.75 per ride, taxis face a $2.50 surcharge, and services like Via and UberPool operating shared vehicles will be charged a $0.75 fee per customer, reports Spectrum News NY1.

The new fees only apply to vehicles traveling below 96th Street, so the upper reaches of Manhattan are exempt. But this is still an indication that New York officials are serious about implementing much-discussed congestion charges in the Big Apple as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution.

Other U.S. cities have enacted surcharges for ride-hailing services, notes Engadget, but the fees tend to be lower than in New York. Seattle began charging 24 cents per trip in 2014; Portland, Oregon added a 50 cent fee per rider in 2016; and Chicago added a surcharge in 2014 that will reach 65 cents this year.

"It's a phase-in on congestion pricing." New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with NY1 regarding the new surcharges. "The experts will say, to handle the congestion you really need to charge tolls for cars that are coming from the outside."

Cuomo added that the surcharges will contribute "$400 million every year on a recurring basis" to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City's public transit agency. The MTA is currently implementing a "Subway Action Plan" to address deferred maintenance and other issues with New York's subway system, and Cuomo expects ride-hailing and taxi surcharges to keep that program funded long term.

Drivers and riders alike probably won't appreciate the extra fees, no matter how the money is spent. The surcharges aren't insignificant (the Uber/Lyft surcharge equals the cost of one subway ride), and they make getting into New York City's busiest borough that much more expensive. Drivers face loss of business if passengers decide the cost of a taxi or ride-hailing service is too much. In statements, Uber and Lyft spokespeople said the companies support the surcharges, but want them to be expanded to include all vehicles.

"Uber supports the agreement between the Governor and the Legislature to target a per-trip fee on Manhattan riders where there is convenient access to public transit, and to adopt a first-in-the-nation tax discount on shared trips," an Uber spokesperson said. "We will continue to advocate for the adoption of a comprehensive congestion pricing plan that is applied to all vehicles because it is the best way to fully fund mass transit and reduce traffic in the central business district."

"We support the meaningful first step that the Governor, Senate and Assembly has taken to address congestion and transit needs in the City of New York, especially incentivizing shared rides," a Lyft spokesperson said. "However, congestion will not be fully addressed until the Governor and Legislature enact a comprehensive plan that also addresses all commercial vehicles and the real issue driving congestion: personal vehicles.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the Legislature on implementing the comprehensive recommendations as outlined in the FixNYC plan to ensure New Yorkers have access to a spectrum of affordable, reliable, and convenient transportation options."