Deal struck to drop proposed gross receipts tax on Uber, Lyft paves way for city to glean per-ride charges


Supervisor Aaron Peskin today confirmed that he’s dropped his plans to hit “Transportation Network Companies” — Uber, Lyft, etc. — with a gross receipts tax on their revenue. As such, the companies will acquiesce to a proposed per-ride surcharge, to be enabled by forthcoming state legislation from Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Peskin said the proposed 3.25-percent tax on every TNC ride in the city could result in users of Uber, Lyft,  et al. pumping $30 million a year into San Francisco’s municipal piggybank — and perhaps more in the future.

In a released statement, the supervisor indicated his hopes that “this concession” on the part of the TNCs “signals a shift in their corporate culture and a willingness to work with — not fight with — local governments.”

Informal tallies of Uber, Lyft, and other TNC vehicles in San Francisco are placed at some 47,000 or more rides per day — with perhaps nine of every 10 drivers commuting into the city. The Mission District, naturally, is among the most heavily trawled by ride-share vehicles — and, in case you were wondering, Zeitgeist and Tacolicious are purportedly the No. 1 most-visited bar and restaurant, respectively, by Lyft users. Valencia Street has become so overrun with TNCs that geofencing programs now divert pick-ups onto side streets.

The local tax on TNCs will require a vote of the people in 2019. In addition to a 3.25 percent surcharge on Uber, Lyft, and other TNC rides, the proposed legislation would also impose a 1.5 percent tax on so-called “carpool share” services — including future autonomous vehicles.

The estimated $30 million yearly would be directed toward the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and begin chipping away at this city’s myriad transportation headaches.

“San Francisco streets are more congested and crowded than ever.  … We need the additional revenue to make these critical transportation investments and improvements,” Ting said in a statement. “I’m proud to work with my San Francisco colleagues, Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu, to help improve San Francisco’s transportation systems.”

An earlier version of this story referenced to Chariot when it is not yet clear if or at what rate Chariot would be taxed under this proposition.