WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — One D.C. councilmember wants to alleviate congestion downtown and fund free buses. But to do it, some rideshare users would be charged extra.
While many people are in favor of a free bus system, adding an extra fee to Uber and Lyft rides isn’t something with which everyone is on board.
“That’s not the solution. It’s just going to create more problems in the long run,” said Shamar Talbot.
D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau’s proposal is to tack on a $2 fee for “digital dispatch companies,” including Uber and Lyft, for rides starting or ending downtown.
“We all have to help each other out so I wouldn’t mind paying an extra $2,” said Nahjae Royster.
Nadeau said the extra $2 would raise about $45 million dollars over the course of the next several years to fund fare-free buses and have at least 12 lines run 24-hour service, something the Mayor Muriel Bowser cut from her budget.
“Free bus service is going to be a game changer because we know that people who ride the bus in the District are our residents, and they’re oftentimes residents who have lower income or higher need for that access to reliable bus service,” Nadeau said.
The extra fee would be for rides ending in the downtown business district from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. and originating downtown from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“That’s good for our businesses. It’s good for our residents. It’s good for our visitors,” Nadeau said.
Wheelchair accessible vehicle rides would be exempt and the fees actually would add funding for those accessible services.
“When you think about the bigger picture and everyone that it’s affecting in the city I think that it’s beneficial,” Royster said.
Nadeau said the fee also incentivizes people to use other ways to get around D.C.’s congested streets.
“If we can reduce that congestion based on applying a surcharge that really changes behavior, then we can improve the quality of life and the experience in the downtown area,” Nadeau said.
Still, not everyone agrees.
“They’re taking money from people who are spending their hard working money to take transportation to their either jobs, or coming from their locations and it doesn’t equal out,” Talbot said.