Effective Mobility Taxes Need Better Data

The District of Columbia is attempting to build a data-based model for the mix of public and "shared" transportation modes on its streets, but is still finding holes in the data necessary to build new policies.
April 25, 2018, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Everett Historical

Ride hailing has exploded in the Washington, D.C. market on the same timeline as a steady decline in taxi ridership, according to recently released data.

"New figures provided by the office of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) show that taxi ridership has fallen 31 percent, or about 6 million trips, since the ride-hailing boom began in late 2015," reports Faiz Siddiqui. A ride-hailing surcharge is already generating as much funding as taxis did in 2015, showing further evidence of steady growth in ride-hailing services.

The increased use of ride-hailing also explains why Mayor Bowser has targeted the industry for increased taxes—beyond the 1 percent surcharge currently in place to 4.75 percent.

For context, Siddiqui notes the multiple studies in recent months that tie ride-hailing adoption to increased congestion and decreased transit ridership. But the real story is about the District's efforts to set transportation policy while also working to fill the holes in the available data about how people are traveling its streets. While programs like Uber Movement and SharedStreets (check out Coord for a non-Uber example of curb data platforms) have helped to some extent, the District and other cities around the country still lack a lot of information about average fares and total trips.

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