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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.
Agree with this view or not, the editorial board would like to hear from you.
Vote in the poll below.
February 25, 2014 at 6:25 AM
The Cascade Bicycle Club got valuable real estate on Monday with a front page Seattle Times story on the club’s pivot toward a “more inclusive” recreation-first group. But the CBC took advantage with a rather a creepy email to members. (Yes, I’m a member.)
Here’s an excerpt:
Let me introduce myself. I’m Bike “I’m smarter than you” Bot, the Director of Cascade’s Intelligence Agency.*
I’m not human. I’m an internet program that’s been trolling through how many emails you’ve been opening from the Cascade Bicycle Club and how many actions you’ve been taking.** (more…)
February 5, 2014 at 6:20 AM
The Seattle Seahawks are throwing the 12th Man the biggest super-sized party Seattle has seen since 1979. And they’re picking up the bill.
The Seahawks’ city-issued parade permit includes standard costs for traffic control, said Jeff Reading, Mayor Ed Murray’s spokesman. Costs above that – including a call-out of “every available police officer,” according to a city source – will be paid for by the Seahawks.
How much that will be is a secret, for now. Seattle police don’t disclose costs for big events in advance, for security reasons. (more…)
January 7, 2014 at 6:00 AM
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray chose to make a $15 minimum wage for city employees the topic of his first official press conference last Friday, but he also reiterated that increasing wages alone won’t fix the city’s affordability problem.
Murray said education and housing are two other issues that must be dealt with if Seattle is to remain a place where people from diverse backgrounds and income levels can work and live.
He’s right. For now, let’s single out the housing part.
In case you missed it, The Seattle Times editorial pages featured a special section on affordable housing last month. Read those op-eds here. In November, our board called on city leaders to develop a coherent strategy to fix the housing shortage.
Since then, Seattle Times reporter Sanjay Bhatt reports rent increases may be stabilizing, but not by much. And most of the housing stock that’s available is out of reach for low and middle-wage workers. Remember, affordable housing generally means the cost of utilities and shelter should not exceed 30 percent of household income.
Here’s a link to the city’s wait list for subsidized housing, which is perennially long and can last years. Many lower-middle class workers don’t quality for assistance. Thousands more remain homeless, including hundreds of families with children.
If we know the city of Seattle needs more shelter and housing, how do we pay for it? New and existing developments rely heavily on federal funds, the Seattle Housing Levy (which is up for renewal in 2016) and the state’s Housing Trust Fund. The new mayor and City Council’s challenge is to develop policies that will stretch those limited dollars further. (more…)
December 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM
I was at a ramen house in University Village on Sunday with my sister from Los Angeles, refreshing the Seahawks app on my phone between slurps and conversation. My Twitter feed, too. We headed to a dessert shop afterward. A well-dressed mother and young daughter sitting next to us wondered aloud what the score was. I broke out my phone and gave them an update. Just four ladies at Fran’s Chocolates, talking football. The little girl’s father is a rabid fan and season ticket-holder. They weren’t with him at the game, but they were with him in spirit.
On Sunday, the Seahawks won the NFC West division title by beating the St. Louis Rams and secured home-field advantage until the Super Bowl.
For the first time in my life, this Washington native is genuinely interested in Seahawks football.
I’m cheering on my home team because it unites us. Brings us together during these dark, cold dreary days of winter. (more…)
December 30, 2013 at 6:08 AM
We are nearing the end of 2013. Here is what was most popular with online readers in the past 12 months: Seattle’s dating scene, not having kids and wages at Dick’s Drive-In.
In case you missed them, here is another chance to check out the most-read editorials, staff columns, guest columns (aka op-eds) and Opinion Northwest blog posts of the year. These rankings are based on online click-throughs, aka page views. (more…)
December 27, 2013 at 5:54 PM
I was driving out of Lam Seafood’s parking lot on Christmas Eve when I heard sirens and saw smoke rise above the Chinatown-International District skyline.
The next day, ABC News posted this headline from a wire report: “Seattle building that burned was site of massacre.”
Kind of creepy, I thought. Are the rumors true? That the building above Washington’s most deadly crime scene is haunted or cursed?
Shame on me for momentarily giving in to the lore. Long before 13 people were shot and killed in the property’s basement on Feb. 18, 1983, the three-story building was a gathering place for Seattle’s Chinese community. After the murders, the building’s owners locked the crime scene from public view and left it vacant. But small businesses have always occupied the ground floor retail spaces, giving generations of Asian immigrants a shot at the American Dream.
On Friday morning, I ventured down to the corner of Seventh Avenue South and South King Street to see the damage. Firefighters and police were still at the scene. The family that owns the Yuan Sheng Hang medicinal herb shop at the corner was removing as much as it could from the premises. They looked dazed. Workers at Sea Garden Seafood Restaurant carted out undamaged supplies. My colleagues and I had just dined there two weeks ago. Across the street, I met Rebecca Frestedt, a coordinator with the city’s Historic Preservation Program. She toured the building three years ago, and pointed up at the corner window on the third floor where she had once seen beautiful murals hand-painted by Chinese immigrants. (more…)
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.