Uber is cozying up to Congress. A new report by Hamilton Place Strategies, a policy research firm that has worked with candidates like President George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, takes a close look at the transportation spending habits of congressional employees, and one thing is clear: Congress seems to really like getting its Uber on.
The chart below shows that the number of Uber rides—or at least rides underneath $100—isn’t just eclipsing the number of taxi rides taken, but it’s also increasing the personal transportation market overall. In 2012, Congress spent $72,000 on rides, but in 2014, that figure ballooned to $112,000. Congressional employees appear to be getting chauffeured around more than ever before.
The data was gathered from publicly available campaign spending reports through August 2014. There are, however, a few considerations worth noting. As the Wall Street Journal points out, we don’t know who was actually taking Uber rides. We can’t tell if it’s an actual vote-casting member of Congress, or merely a staffer. And the report’s author, Tom Kise, is careful to note that Congress is “a small portion of the total number of lawmakers across the country. Many of the regulatory decisions in this space are being made at the local level, not in Congress.”
In any case, the report gives us pretty clear indication that government employees, even if they aren’t backing Uber explicitly, are actually using the service, which bodes better for its chances at overcoming regulatory hurdles than any transparent (and often misguided) PR stunts. “One thing is clear,” writes Kise, “Members of Congress have embraced peer-to-peer car services for themselves. They are voting Uber with their rides.”
Uber’s rapid expansion, data-driven approach, and investment in future infrastructure have earned it comparisons to today’s indispensable tech giants. But like Google, how Uber handles legal pushback from regulators is really the key to securing its future.