It is going to cost more to use Uber in Montgomery County. By a unanimous vote, the county council has approved a move to tack an extra quarter onto every Uber or rideshare trip.
While supporters say that money will go to a good cause, some passengers say they are getting squeezed by yet another tax.
Taxi companies in Montgomery County have never been happy about the competition from companies like Uber -- and it's not only because they cut into their business. They have to pay into a fund that provides transportation for the disabled. But now, Uber is being forced to raise its prices to level the playing field.
When the Montgomery County Council passed bills aimed to improve taxi service and end predatory towing on Tuesday, tucked away in one bill was this line: "Impose a 25 cent per ride charge” on all Uber trips.
Councilmember Roger Berliner said the first thing you need to know about this 25 cent hike is that the money is going to a good cause -- funding transportation for the disabled with 66 new fully accessible vehicles.
"We're increasing the fleet for our disabled community and using this fund to help pay down the extra costs associated with those more expensive vehicles,” he said.
The move is being cheered by regulated taxi companies who have lost business to Uber. As for Uber passengers, it's a mixed bag.
"We can afford it now,” said one Uber user we spoke with. “If you asked me that a year or two ago, I might have had a different answer.”
"People should be able to choose whether they are going to take Uber,” said another Uber rider. “They shouldn't be penalized if they want to choose Uber over somebody else.”
For now, Uber will not have to put disabled accessible vehicles on the road, but that could change if the state moves in. Because of the way Maryland approved Uber's operations in the state, this surcharge is really one of the few ways Montgomery County can regulate the company.
The vote was unanimous and Berliner's office said it is expected it will be signed into law.