Letter tax on uber and lyft will punish the poor 100 gas vs 10 ethanol

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From High Point to Cape May, Jersey City to Atlantic City, New Jersey’s economic and social diversity is what makes it an exciting and dynamic place to live. But as the state budget gets finalized, it’s important that we ensure that economically underprivileged areas aren’t supporting more than their fair share to maintain our state systems.

One example: a proposal in the Murphy budget will raise the cost of transportation in the form of a new 7% sales tax on Uber and Lyft rides. On its face, it may appear that wealthier communities will bear the brunt of that new tax — a “luxury tax” of sorts to help pay for public transit. But in reality, it will hurt lower-income communities and young wage earners the most.

As the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, I see first-hand that parishioners come to church each Sunday and for services and events throughout the week in Uber and Lyft, frequently using Lyft Line, the carpool option, to reduce the cost. As a father of millennial twins who are working their first jobs after college graduation, I am aware that Lyft and Uber have become their preferred mode of transportation as they commute to work every day.

From High Point to Cape May, Jersey City to Atlantic City, New Jersey’s economic and social diversity is what makes it an exciting and dynamic place to live. But as the state budget gets finalized, it’s important that we ensure that economically underprivileged areas aren’t supporting more than their fair share to maintain our state systems.

One example: a proposal in the Murphy budget will raise the cost of transportation in the form of a new 7% sales tax on Uber and Lyft rides. On its face, it may appear that wealthier communities will bear the brunt of that new tax — a “luxury tax” of sorts to help pay for public transit. But in reality, it will hurt lower-income communities and young wage earners the most.

As the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, I see first-hand that parishioners come to church each Sunday and for services and events throughout the week in Uber and Lyft, frequently using Lyft Line, the carpool option, to reduce the cost. As a father of millennial twins who are working their first jobs after college graduation, I am aware that Lyft and Uber have become their preferred mode of transportation as they commute to work every day.

This isn’t a luxury — it’s a substitution for personal cars, and the gas and insurance and parking costs that come alongside car ownership. Ridesharing is a reasonable, and cost-effective, alternative for folks looking to get from Point A to Point B, without breaking the bank.

In Camden, 54% of rides start or end in low-income communities. Over half of riders elect to use Lyft Line. Once again, the reported top destination is the Walter Rand Transportation Center, which connects Camden regionally to the rest of New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

In many ways, these statistics paint the picture of ridesharing’s success in New Jersey, as a fully-integrated piece of our transportation infrastructure — providing a last-mile solution and a real social good, not just in the most stylish parts of the state but everywhere, and for everyone.

As a former state official, I understand that we must raise the money to operate our state and interstate transportation systems. Nothing infuriates New Jerseyans more than a rush-hour shutdown of the Gateway tunnel, and that’s not the only infrastructural upgrade we need. Our roads need work, our bridges, and NJ Transit too.

Here is one piece of legislation we cannot simply let roll by with the passage of the budget. It is up to us to ensure that no one in New Jersey has to choose between transportation and their many other basic needs. And that starts with rejecting this 7% tax — in the name of fairness and equity for every New Jersey resident.