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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: rideshare

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February 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Poll: Should Seattle City Council impose cap on rideshare services Lyft, uberX and Sidecar?

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.

Agree with this view or not, the editorial board would like to hear from you.

Vote in the poll below.

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0 Comments | Topics: lyft, rideshare, Seattle

December 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Reader responses to Seattle ridesharing proposal

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.

A member of the public speaks before the Seattle City Council's Committee on Taxi, For-hire and Limousine Regulatiion on Dec. 13, 2013 at City Hall Council Chambers. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

A member of the public speaks before the Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-hire and Limousine Regulations on Dec. 13, 2013 at City Hall. (Photo by Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times)

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

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