Seattle approves new tax on Uber, Lyft rides

SEATTLE — Taking an Uber or Lyft from Seattle is going to cost you more next summer.

The Seattle City Council approved a $0.51 tax as part of Mayor Durkan's Fare Share plan.

The tax will only apply to rides that begin in Seattle.

Currently, Uber and Lyft pay an existing city fee of $0.24 per ride to fund wheelchair accessible taxis and regulation. The Fare Share plan imposes an additional per-ride tax.

The mayor’s office said over five years, the tax is estimated to generate $52 million to build 500 affordable housing units near transit and $56 million to finish the Center City Connector streetcar.

Another $17.75 million will be used create an independent Driver Resolution Center for Uber and Lyft drivers that will help work out issues between drivers and the ride-hailing companies.

After that, the money will be spent on transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and safety projects, the mayor’s office said.

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The tax is expected to generate $25 a year.

Also included in the plan is legislation that will mandate Seattle ride share drivers be paid a minimum wage. That wage will be determined after an independent study that will take into consideration costs not included in current wages such as paid sick leave, worker’s compensation, unemployment and driver expenses.

Representatives from Uber and Lyft said in statements they support minimum wages for the drivers, but the money shouldn't be used to plug budget holes, and the tax affects low-income people who depend on ride shares.

Both changes will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Durkan will sign the plan into law later this week.