Metro Atlanta is a bustling, powerful, wonderfully diverse city and economic engine for the region and the state. But for all the benefits that our region and state offer, the reality is that sprawling geography also stymies the chance at upward mobility for many. Research shows that when economic engines are very spread out, transportation barriers make it harder for those in low-income communities to break out of poverty. Lack of transportation holds too much of the workforce back from jobs, education and commerce outside of their immediate neighborhoods and communities.
Rideshare has been a game-changer for low-income residents in Atlanta and throughout the state, and we need to keep it as affordable as possible. At the Urban League, we work tirelessly to boost economic opportunity and advocate for resources that help everyone in our communities to thrive.
Services like Lyft and Uber have not only made it possible for people to move around sprawling Atlanta and other communities across the state with the tap of a button but have provided opportunities for tens of thousands to earn wages inside and outside of their communities.
A State legislative proposal to add sales tax to rideshare will make rides almost 9 percent more expensive than they are today — and will be the highest tax of its kind in the nation. While a 9 percent increase may not have a devastating impact on our affluent citizens, it will have a devastating impact on the youth, adults and families who struggle to make ends meet each and every day.
This tax will be felt most by:
- Teens, women and men who are trying to get home from work after their shift ends at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday and MARTA has stopped running.
- The parent who needs to take a child to the doctor but doesn’t have a car to use.
- The senior citizens who live on a fixed income month to month.
Investing in transportation is critical, and we support efforts to make public transit more convenient, affordable and accessible. However, we can’t expect these efforts to be paid for by those who can afford them the least. Communities of color and low-income individuals have enough stacked against them working hard to meet their basic needs without measures that will make it harder to afford to commute to work, buy groceries, get medical attention, and care for loved ones. I hope legislators will thoroughly consider the negative economic impact of this legislation before resorting to new taxes that will immobilize the people who are most vulnerable when costs rise for basic transportation services.