BOSTON — Lawmakers are making another push to drum up revenue from fees on ride-hailing services but the effort faces pushback from the companies who say it will mean higher costs for Uber and Lyft rides.
The legislation, which is nearly identical to a proposal vetoed by Gov. Charlie Baker last month, would replace the state’s 20-cent fee charged by ride-hailing companies with a 40-cent fee for shared rides, $1.20 for a ride that isn’t shared, and $2.20 for a non-shared ride in a luxury vehicle.
It also would allow cities and towns to impose a new $2.25 fee for rides that start within their borders.
Lawmakers who back the new fees say they will drum up needed revenue for transportation upgrades while encouraging commuters to use mass transit.
“We need to get more cars off the road, lower carbon emissions and incentivize people to use mass transit,” Sen. Brendan Crighton, D-Lynn, said. “This proposal would accomplish that while also generating more transportation revenue.”
The effort is supported by transit advocates who say the state needs more money to fix potholed roads and crumbling bridges.
But ride-hailing services argue the fees will pass along costs to consumers, likely leading to more expensive Uber and Lyft rides.
A similar proposal was tucked into a $16.5 billion transportation bond bill approved by the Legislature in the final days of the previous session but Baker removed the provision before he signed the bill.
Baker, who has supported higher fees in the past, said the Legislature’s proposal was “complicated” and based on pre-pandemic assumptions about traffic.
“Before instituting fees that are aimed at incentivizing certain travel behaviors, we need to understand what ridership and congestion patterns are going to look like after the pandemic,” Baker wrote to lawmakers at the time.
Crighton said the expectation is that traffic patterns will eventually return to normal once the pandemic recedes and more people return to work.
Baker also filed his own legislation last year as part of the state budget that sought to impose a $1-per-ride assessment, up from 20 cents per ride. Lawmakers rejected the proposal before approving the $46 billion budget.
Massachusetts has seen the number of ride-hailing trips soar from 64.8 million in 2017 to 91.1 million in 2019, according to state data.
More than 200,000 ride-hailing drivers may work in the state, though it’s not clear how many are now on the road.
Baker signed a ride-hailing law in 2016 that included a 20-cent fee per ride, half of which is distributed to cities and towns. The state collected more than $18.2 million from the fees in 2019, according to the Transportation Network Company division of the Department of Public Utilities.
By statute, money from the fees must be used to address the impact of the services on roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The state’s share of ride-hailing fees is earmarked for a transportation fund and goes to support the taxi industry, which has seen a dramatic decline in ridership.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites. Email him at email@example.com.