Last week, Rep. Adrian Madaro and Mayor Martin Walsh testified at the State House urging lawmakers to adopt legislation filed by Walsh and sponsored by Madaro that better aligns transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, with the East Boston’s mobility goals.
“I was proud to advocate for two bills I filed (H1039 and H1041) to address rideshare-related congestion in East Boston and across the state,” said Madaro. “These bills provide an incentive for shared rides and encourage public transportation by changing our TNC fee from a flat amount to a percentage-based model, including discounts for pooled rides and greater transparency on surge pricing.
In addition, one of the bills Madaro filed would levy a penalty on Uber and Lyft drivers coming or going to Logan Airport without a passenger, a practice known as ‘deadheading’.
“These deadhead trips added five million cars to Eastie streets last year,” said Madaro. “These bills will cut down on the number of rideshares on our streets, decrease congestion, encourage public transit, and raise much needed revenue for road and transportation infrastructure.”
House Bill H.1039 and H.1041, An Act Relative to Transportation Network Company Rider Assessments would charge passengers 6.25 percent of the total fare for single-occupancy trips and three percent of the total fare for shared trips. Half of the revenue would go to the city or town in which the miles were driven, and the other half would go to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and MassDevelopment.
TNCs would also be charged a per-mile fee of 20 cents for all miles traveled with no passengers during peak hours. Half of the revenue would go to the city or town in which the miles were driven, and the other half would go to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund and MassDevelopment.
“Transportation network companies have changed the way people travel,” said Walsh at the hearing. “In some ways, they’ve made things more convenient. But they’ve also increased congestion, especially during rush hour. And they’re adding to the emissions that harm air quality and cause climate change. We have to find ways to make rideshares part of a sustainable and equitable transportation system. This bill would help us do that. This legislation would improve upon the TNC regulations already in place. It would adjust the assessment to better reflect and mitigate the impact on our streets and our environment.”
Walsh said right now, 20 cents per ride is collected and split between cities and towns, MassDevelopment, and the Commonwealth Transportation Fund. Last year, the City of Boston took in $3.4 million from TNC assessments.
“We are re-investing this money directly into things that make our entire transportation system better, whether you walk, bike, drive, take the T, or use ride shares,” said Walsh. “This is a good start. But honestly, it doesn’t go far enough.”
Madaro testified that approximately 81.3 million TNC rides originated in the state in 2018 with 15 percent of that total traveling through Eastie.
“Out of that number 12 million of TNC rides, almost 15 percent of state total, travelled through my district, going to and from Logan Airport,” said Madaro. “Five million of which were deadhead rides – meaning they went to Logan or left Logan empty. An increase in congestion has created gridlock on our neighborhood streets and clogged the two Boston Harbor tunnels which are the connection to the city for our neighborhood, and many in North Shore. Today in the morning, we cannot move around the neighborhood. The increased congestion has impacted quality of life for residents across the area.”
Madaro added that while TNCs are a convenient mode of transportation for many, “We need to make sure that they pay their fair share and help address the impacts their operations have on our roads and communities.”