ALBANY — A group of 14 New York City clergy members are urging legislative leaders not to adopt a congestion pricing plan that treats ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft differently than the taxi industry when it comes to new fees.
The group of black pastors, Mobilizing Preachers & Community, in a letter to Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders called on them “to pass a comprehensive solution that will raise enough money for the MTA to fully fund improvements that are gravely needed,” and that “any per trip fee be equitable and fair to outer borough New Yorkers.”
The clergy argued their communities rely more on Uber and Lyft because many minority and outer-borough communities lack sufficient mass transit options.
They also wrote that yellow taxis typically don’t leave Manhattan and “have a history of discriminating against certain groups of New Yorkers.”
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A taxi industry spokesman denies the charge.
Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel recently released a proposed congestion pricing plan to help fund the cash-strapped MTA that would include a $2- to $5-per trip fee on all for-hire car services that travel into a specified heavily congested zone in Manhattan.
The taxi industry and transit advocates say the congestion in Manhattan has gotten much worse because of a flood of Uber and Lyft cars.
The taxi industry argues it shouldn’t be hit with a new fee because yellow cabs for years have charged 50-cent per trip on every fare that has sent $600 million to the MTA.
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They say they have also paid millions of dollars to the city for medallions that allow them to operate, something the app-based services like Uber do not.
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft do charge an 8.875% sales tax per ride in the city, but little of that goes to the MTA.
“We support a fair and equitable plan that indeed has a level of congestion pricing but that’s fair to yellow taxis who have been paying this all along,” said Michael Woloz, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade.
“We should not be paying anywhere near the same surcharge when (Uber and Lyft) haven’t been paying a dime. They should be paying their fair share.”
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Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, added that “the yellow cabs and green cabs are doing their part to help fund the MTA. Uber is the one causing the (congestion) problem. They should have the responsibility for it.”
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