The city of Portland has tapped into an unexpected stream of revenue: Uber and Lyft. A 50-cent surcharge, which is paid by passengers for every ride-hailing trip or taxi, has raised $6.7 million since 2016, according to data obtained through a public records request.
By law, the revenue can only be used for enforcement and regulation of the ride-hailing and taxi industries, which puts the city in an unusual position. The 50-cent surcharge is currently bringing in more money than the city needs to run the program.
“The program is not designed to make money,” said Dave Benson, a senior manager for the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Right now we have about 3 million in excess dollars.”
As ride-hailing services increase in popularity, the city expects to generate even more revenue.
Last year, Uber, Lyft and taxis recorded a record 10 million rides in Portland, according to PBOT.
“Ten million rides is enough for 15 rides for every man, woman and child in the city of Portland,” said Benson. “I thought we would have hit the ceiling by now. Every quarter we see the numbers going up.”