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Massachusetts' Changes To Ride-Sharing Fees Could Hurt Those On Fixed Incomes

PEABODY (CBS) - On Wednesday, Ali and Steven Harris went to Dottie's Hair Salon in Peabody. It's their monthly trip. And since neither one is able to drive anymore, they took an Uber. They used to use the MBTA's RIDE program but found it too restrictive.

Ali Harris said a rise in ride-sharing service fees could cause a financial hardship for her and her husband. (WBZ-TV)

"We use Uber a lot for food shopping," Steven said. "And there - I mean think about it - with the RIDE, you're limited in the number of bags you can take with you."

Now, Governor Charlie Baker is proposing to raise the ride-sharing service fee from 20 cents a ride to $1.

"We count every Uber dollar," said Ali. "This tax would literally come out to be three (hundred) to four hundred dollars more a year for us."

For some, Uber or Lyft is a necessity, said salon owner Dottie Turner. "If you've got somebody with a walker standing outside or any disability - our clients are not elderly, but disabled - so it's not stereotyping the elderly. There's clients that need to get somewhere," she said.

Neither Ali nor Steven are able to work anymore, so they're on a fixed income. And every penny counts.

"It would be an enormous expense to us to pay a dollar a ride more," Steven said. "I mean it might not even be feasible."

In responds to the story, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs pointed to Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 187, Section 8b, which says "A transportation network company shall not charge a transportation network rider or a transportation network driver, as defined in section 1 of chapter 159A½, for the cost of the per-ride assessment."

"The governor's budget proposal does not change the prohibition on rideshare companies passing the per-ride fee along to riders or drivers," the spokesman said.

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