Thanks to nearly half a million Lyft and Uber rides originating in Chelsea in 2021, the city now has an additional $50,000 for its streets and sidewalks improvement plan.
At its most recent meeting, the City Council approved the appropriation of $49,247.90 in available funds from the CommonwealthTransportation Infrastructure Fund to assist in the FY23 street and sidewalk program.
“These extra funds available for appropriation come from the recent annual distribution to the City based upon rides originating in Chelsea from Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft,” stated City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “As part of the new regulatory scheme, TNCs are required to pay the Commonwealth a $0.20 per-ride assessment. One half of that assessment is distributed proportionately to each city and town in the Commonwealth based upon the number of rides that originate in the municipality.”
The state has previously determined that local communities must specifically appropriated the TNC funds in order to be spent, and that the funds must be used “to address the impact of transportation network services on municipal roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure.”
Ambrosino requested the funds be used for FY23 roadwork.
Council President Roy Avellaneda said that in addition to using the funds, the city should take advantage of the information provided to the city about the number of Uber and Lyft rides originating in Chelsea.
“Nearly 500,000 trips originated … out of Chelsea,” said Avellaneda. “You think about that, that’s nearly 40,000 trips per month, or 10,000 trips per week of cars that people are taking through Uber or Lyft out of this community. It’s an amazing numbers, and it means 10,000 people per week don’t want to ride the bus, 10,000 people don’t want to get a bike, 10,000 people may not have a car, but still want to get into one.”
Avellaneda noted that the state only counts rides that originate in Chelsea, not return trips, meaning the total number of ride shares is probably closer to twice that number. He also pointed to pre-Covid numbers in 2019, when there were about one million ride shares that originated in Chelsea.
“This gives us a glimpse of how many cars are coming in and out of our city,” he said. “That’s a million trips, two million trips in 2019 of people taking Uber.”
Later this month, the MBTA is hosting a meeting in council chambers to talk about its planned bus proposals, Avellaneda said.
“I’m going to be here, and I’m going to ask them ‘What does your plan do that might make a dent in the number of people living in this community who don’t feel like riding your bus? What are you doing wrong?’” he said. “How are we going to get people out of cars if we are not providing them with the public transportation that is convenient for them and serves their needs? We talk about new roadways and bike lanes and all that, but a million people were taking Uber and Lyft prior to Covid.”
Avellaneda said the city needs to use that data to help make policy and advocate for better public transportation.