Harry Campbell, who calls himself “The Rideshare Guy,” runs a blog and podcast specifically for Uber and Lyft drivers. In a new podcast, he interviews me a broad range of topics, not just Uber and Lyft. He gets me going on how transit works, and how I got into the business, in addition to the effects of rideshare.
You can listen right here. We get going at 3:20.
That was an interesting comment in the podcast, about how even a swap of driving in one’s own car to Uber/Lyft is still a negative for road congestion because of the empty driving the drivers must do between trips.
However, there are two things that make me hesitant to support outright taxes on Uber and Lyft. For example: would trips in the suburbs be taxed the same way as trips in the inner city, just because they happen to fall under the same municipal jurisdiction? Would trips at midnight be taxed the same way as trips at 5 PM? If it fair to impose Uber/Lyft taxes in areas where the radial transit service (heading into and out of downtown) is good, but the cross-town service is poor or non-existant? What about disabled people who can’t ride the regular transit system (e.g. in the case of New York City, people who would ride the subway, but can’t walk up or down stairs, and the subway station by their home doesn’t have elevators)? What if *your* trip is suburb to suburb, but you’re taking a pooled ride, and Uber or Lyft is choosing to make you pass through the city center, only to pick up and drop off other passengers?
The second factor is that there is one form of driving which is even more inefficient, in terms of road space, than Uber and Lyft, and that’s being driven around by friends and family. Typically, these trips mean the driver picks you up and home, drops you off somewhere, then, drives all back home, then repeats everything in reverse to pick you up, so the total vehicle miles traveled is double the round trip mileage. I’m concerned that, at least in areas where most people still own cars, taxing Uber and Lyft trips is going to lead to a lot more private-pick-up-and-drop-off trips, where the family member is essentially doing the same thing as an Uber or Lyft driver, but because they’re not getting paid to do it, they’re not subject to the tax. Many times, the family member driver is in one of those “I-can-do-it-if-I-really-have-to-but-would-rather-not” situations, and a tax makes the difference between an Uber car (which could carry another passenger on the way back) vs. a family member driver (who will, for sure, drive all the way back, empty).
Thanks for sharing this, really think you communicated well on the podcast. Especially on the issues of ride-hailing and transit, and the inherent problems ride-hailing has created for the public transit space – not just congestion.