After Allowing an Unlimited Number of Uber & Lyft Vehicles in the City, Mayor Bowser Says She Wants to Unclog City Streets During State of the District Address

by Sean Riley

On Monday evening, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her annual “State of the District Address,” marking the first time she has done so during her second term. She sailed to re-election last year without confronting a serious challenger in the 2018 Democratic primary.

In a speech that ran less than an hour, Bowser touched on matters ranging from her recent visit to the White House and the 2020 presidential race to schools and D.C.’s financial well-being. (You can read her remarks, as prepared, here.)

At a few points during the mayor’s speech, activists shouted “stop the war on the poor” and “this is our home,” causing Bowser to pause temporarily. Authorities removed some of the activists from the venue, the Theater of the Arts at the University of the District of Columbia.[MORE]

With regard to transportation issues the Mayor insisted that getting DC residents to ride the Metro is essential and strengthening Metro remains a priority for the mayor. “As much as we love the Circulator, Streetcar, and Capital Bikeshare, we also know that they are no replacement for Metro,” Bowser said.

She called, as she has done recently, for a commitment from the transit agency to return to late-night service, and also warned against Metro “becom[ing] a system that only caters to white-collar workers commuting from the suburbs.” “We’re not going to replace Metro with Uber and Lyft,” Bowser said, “because we can’t move our region forward by further clogging our roads.” Metro is currently planning to offer subsidies to ride-hailing and taxi companies that could give late-night rides to workers.

Such comments are hypocritical upon consideration that her administration has allowed an unlimited number of Uber vehicles in the City. While DFHV has over-regulated the locally owned, small business taxicab companies, the City has placed no limits on the quantity of private vehicle for hire vehicles allowed to operate on DC streets. While there are only an estimated 5,500 taxicabs in DC, according to the latest DFHV newsletter, there are at least 178,000 Uber and Lyft vehicles clogging the streets.

Other major cities such NYC and San Francisco have sought to stop unconstrained growth in traffic caused by Uber and Lyft by limiting the number of vehicles allowed to operate. Studies have shown that such limitless growth worsens gridlock and causes a rise in emissions unhealthy to the environment. [MORE]

Bowser also announced that from now on, the red D.C. Circulator buses will remain free, as they have been since February. The mayor said in recent weeks, workers had waylaid her to praise the free bus service. “We may not think about it, because it’s just $1 each way, $2 a day, but for a working person it adds up,” Bowser noted.

She also said the city would invest $122 million in a new transit way on K Street NW, one of its primary east-west routes, to “ensure that buses, bikes, and cars can safely share the road and move through downtown D.C.” She did not mention a possible K Street extension of the D.C. Streetcar, which would link H Street NE and Union Station to Georgetown. [MORE]

She mentioned nothing about her administration’s failure to address the City’s widespread pothole problems. Pothole complaints to the city are about three times higher now than they were last year.