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Report: Uber advocating for downtown Seattle tolling

Rideshare giant Uber continues its push for congestion tolling in Seattle. (AP)

Uber is the latest to jump into Seattle’s congestion pricing debate as the company urges cities to start tolling downtown streets.

RELATED: Seattle to study congestion pricing in downtown

The City of Seattle recently acquired grant funding to study congestion pricing and how to make it work in the city. The policy of tolling streets to reduce the number of cars on them is supported by rideshare companies. There is no strict timeline for the new tolling method, but the mayor has said she wants some type of congestion pricing in place by 2021 — within her first term.

The Seattle Times reports that Uber is now set to spend $10 million over the next three years to promote congestion pricing policies in major cities including Seattle. An Uber spokesperson confirms that the company is “committed to advocated for congestion pricing in Seattle,” and that the $10 million will be spent to promote the policy globally.

The Times also notes that Uber spent around $350,000 in New York this year to pay for ads and phone calls to support congestion pricing in that city. It has spent $8,800 for lobbying work at Seattle City Hall since 2016. Rideshare companies, including Lyft, prefer the tolls to another policy that cities often consider — putting caps on rideshare services, limiting their business.

Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a September blog that the company is spending the $10 million in a “campaign for sustainable mobility.” In that blog, Khosrowshahi writes:

One policy we plan to put our energy behind is congestion pricing, which is viewed by urban planners, transit advocates, and academics as the single best way to ease the road congestion that is choking many cities across the globe. We’re ready to do our part to help cities that want to put in place smart policies to tackle congestion—even if that means paying money out of our own pocket to pass a tax on our core business.

We’ve already been advocating for this in New York. For years, we’ve been calling on the state legislature to pass a comprehensive congestion pricing plan where everyone pays their fair share to use crowded streets—trucks, personal vehicles, taxis and, yes, technology platforms like Uber. The funding generated would directly support mass transit, a critical goal of our overall campaign. We recently committed an additional $1 million to fight for its passage next year. With the campaign, we’re committed to bringing similar support for sustainable transportation policy to cities around the world.


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