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March 7, 2014 at 6:04 AM
One week after a Seattle City Council subcommittee‘s controversial and preliminary decision to limit ridesharing services to 150 drivers per network at any given time, Lyft, uberX and Sidecar have each come forward to reveal the number of drivers on their respective platforms.
During a Feb. 27 hearing, council members complained loudly that these companies were refusing to release that information. The city’s top officials have struggled for months to reach an agreement on how to legalize ridesharing, which has disrupted Seattle’s highly regulated taxi industry.
Now armed with a little more information, council members should revisit the cap number they proposed and at least raise the limit on the number of drivers from each company who can work at the same time.
A March 10 vote by the full council has been postponed until March 17.
On Friday afternoon, uberX sent out a press release revealing it “has 900 active drivers on its system. This number does not include drivers who have left the system or those awaiting background checks to join the system. That number also does not include UberBlack or UberSUV drivers.”
The service also said more than 300 drivers are active at any given time and continues to grow with demand. So if the city’s proposed legislation is passed, hundreds of drivers using their personal cars will lose the ability they currently enjoy to earn income through uberX.
Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger’s statement: (more…)
February 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM
In case you missed it, Monday’s editorial in The Seattle Times opinion section argues that a cap on ride-sharing services in Seattle does not improve consumer safety and kills an emerging business model. The board also supports lifting arbitrary caps on taxi, for-hire and ride-sharing vehicles.
Let the market determine how many vehicles should be on the road. Don’t limit growth. Focus on consumer safety.
Discussions on insurance gaps must continue in light of accidents involving ride-share drivers in other markets. Lyft has started a committee to find some clarity. Seattle leaders should join that effort.
Ride-sharing quickly gained a following because it keeps more cars off the road and gives drivers a chance to make a living with an asset they already own. Like the taxi industry, many drivers for these new services are immigrants. The council should beware of picking winners and losers.
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February 14, 2014 at 7:23 AM
On Friday morning, the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations will meet (again) to discuss what to do with app-based transportation companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and UberX. The three-member panel had planned to vote on a draft proposal that would have capped the number of ridesharing vehicles that can operate citywide.
That’s good. It means the council can avert the risk of passing a bad policy and punishing innovation.
Probably helps that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray weighed in throughout the week to express his concerns about the pending legislation. He tweeted this on Thursday:
December 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Thanks to our readers for your thoughtful and interesting comments in response to the Seattle City Council’s draft plan to regulate app-powered ridesharing services in Seattle, such as uberX, Lyft and Sidecar.
In this Monday Opinion Northwest post, I argued that the city’s proposed efforts to regulate these popular new services using old-school standards punish innovation and do not increase consumer safety or choice. The council is considering whether to limit each of these ridesharing networks to 100 vehicles and many drivers to 16 hours per week. A vote is expected sometime early next year, so now is the time for a robust public discussion.
Here’s what some of you have to say about whether and how ridesharing should be regulated:
Absolutely. In an effort to live according to our environmental and urbanist values, my wife and I got rid of our car a year ago. We walk, ride our bikes, take the bus and use a number of ridesharing services to get around town. We rarely use traditional taxis because they are unreliable, especially when you need them most (i.e. rainy weather) and the service is usually not very good. Just try paying with a credit card and the driver has to run your card through an old-school carbon-copy machine. It’s like returning to last century. In contrast, the rideshare services have much better service (just ask the drivers how they like their jobs), are more convenient and are available when you need them most because of pricing that responds to demand.
By stifling these innovations, it becomes harder for people to become less dependent on cars, which contributes to the ongoing cycle of ever-increasing traffic congestion. Seattle thinks of itself as a city that embraces innovation and forward thinking. However, on this issue, our City Council is way behind.
— Gabriel Grant, Seattle
No. All this does is hurt the taxi and for-hire drivers who have worked hard to play by the rules. The stated demand is simply for a cheaper service. These new companies aren’t modeled on providing a cheaper service on a level playing field, they simply pick off the taxis’ best fares and do so without licensing fees, safety or insurance standards. This isn’t a new market segment against the established taxis, it’s the black market versus the law-abiding market.
Level the playing field. The current proposal is TOO lenient on these illegal black market rideshare companies.
— Pat Flanagan, Seattle (more…)
December 16, 2013 at 6:00 AM
On Friday, Seattle witnessed an example of how disruptive business models can thrive and gain popularity with consumers, but they can’t escape forever from the weight of existing regulatory structures.
The Seattle City Council’s latest draft rules to legalize and regulate ridesharing companies such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, leave room for improvement before a final vote in early 2014. City leaders say their intention is to not punish or stifle innovation, but that’s exactly what their proposal would do.
We need to keep consumers safe through common-sense regulations, but we also need to let the market determine how many taxi, for-hire and rideshare services are really necessary. Perhaps the city of Seattle can go back to the drawing board and adopt more aspects of the California model, which ridesharing companies like Lyft contend are fair and will not put them out of business.
December 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Seattle’s blossoming “shared economy” is disrupting the way many of us live, how we get around town and the places we choose to vacation. Turns out the upside of the recent economic downturn is a new willingness among more people to share their personal assets to make extra money, work flexible hours and interact with total strangers.
The growth of this movement is powered by a new generation interested in meaningful connections and sustainable living in a world with limited resources.
On Wednesday, a forum at Impact Hub Seattle brought together folks at the vanguard of the sharing economy, including John Zimmer of the ridesharing service Lyft, Holly Houser of the forthcoming Puget Sound Bikeshare, Lindsey Engh of co-working space Impact Hub Seattle, Joe Mele of StowThat (a storage rental company) and Kristina Bindi of Car2Go.
June 20, 2013 at 7:00 AM
We held a lively discussion Thursday afternoon on the issue of regulating ride-sharing services in Seattle like UBERx, Lyft and Sidecar.
Read our Thursday editorial. According to this Seattle Times news story by reporter Alexa Vaughn, these companies are filling a niche but operating illegally. The city’s taxi operators want the City of Seattle to take action.
I moderated the panel with two guests, Eastside for Hire’s Samatar Guled and Teamsters Local 117 Director of Organizing Leonard Smith. Guled represents for-hire drivers. Smith’s union represents owners and drivers in the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association. Both agree ride-sharing services should be regulated, but they disagree on how the city should level the playing field for all drivers.
During the chat, we covered an array of topics:
- What’s the importance of regulations and licensing of taxi cabs and for-hire services by the city?
- Why is there a need to level the playing field?
- What should be done about the ride-sharing services like UBERx, Lyft and Sidecar?
- How do we ensure rider safety?
Thanks to all who participated in the chat, including users of these services. Below is a transcript of the hour-long online conversation.
June 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM
This Seattle Times news story caught my eye over the weekend because I spent my first several months in Seattle without a car. I relied heavily on a combination of my own two feet, buses, trains, taxis, Uber, ZipCar, Car2Go and, of course, my driver friends. The costs really added up, but I enjoyed for a time the convenience of not having to pay for gas and insurance or having to park a car every night in Capitol Hill.
Now I see a dilemma on the horizon. I want the drivers of innovative services like Lyft and Sidecar to succeed. They’re doing well because they’re responding to Seattle’s heavy demand for quick, responsive ride-share car services. At the same time, I don’t think their success is necessarily fair to taxi drivers who are heavily regulated by the city and subject to licensing fees.
Of course, the Seattle City Council is weighing its options.
While I formulate my own thoughts on this issue, what do you think? Give me a sense of your opinion on this. Take our poll.