The ride-hailing company moves to enlist drivers and clients in an effort to block or tone down $40 million in levies from the mayor’s 2020 budget.


Uber is stepping up its fight against Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed $40 million a year hike in city taxes on ride-hailing trips.

The goal: fire up its riders about the increase, in the apparent hope that they’ll put pressure on the mayor and aldermen to back down or at least cut a deal. In a statement, the San Francisco-based company said it is emailing customers and drivers informing clients of the pending hike, and that it has posted an update on its website laying out the facts as it sees them. In addition, receipts issued at the end of each ride will include a link to Uber’s site saying customers can learn more about about how the city “wants to increase ridesharing taxes and make most Uber trips more expensive.”

“We’re launching a campaign to educate riders in Chicago around the specifics of the city’s proposal and the fact that the vast majority of Uber trips, no matter where you live, will see a tax increase,” said a spokesman. “We think there’s some confusion, and we want riders/drivers to know that all UberX trips, even ones that don’t go near downtown will see an 80 percent increase in fees and that every trip that goes downtown, whether it’s pool or solo, will see an increase.”

Under Lightfoot’s plan, the city’s current flat tax of 72 cents a trip would rise in varying amounts, mostly for single-person trips to or from downtown, where the city says public transit options are good, and much less for trips in neighborhoods.

Specifically, the tax would hit $3 for single-person trips to or from downtown, but would rise a much more modest 53 cents, to $1.25, for single-person rides outside of downtown. Taxes on pooled rides outside of downtown would drop, to 65 cents a trip.

Lightfoot has argued that three-quarters of the new taxes would come from single-person trips to downtown, many of them from Lincoln Park and other high-income neighborhoods. Uber has focused on the impact in poorer areas, with some African-American ministers publicly pleading its case. The company today said that new data indicate that less than 20 percent of trips on the South and West Sides are pooled.

Lightfoot’s office had no immediate reaction to Uber’s new strategy or statement on whether it’s willing to compromise on its plan, for instance limiting the tax hike strictly to downtown trips.

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