King County officials who have watched the Seattle City Council struggle to manage uberX, Lyft and Sidecar ride services for more than a year will now be stepping into the regulatory fray.
King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed legislation today that would require higher insurance standards of the services countywide. The services use smart-phone apps to dispatch drivers using their personal vehicles to pick up passengers.
“It is reasonable to expect that drivers in these programs are properly insured and operating safe vehicles,” Constantine said in a statement. “Innovation is driving rapid changes in the transportation for-hire industry. With this legislation, we will be in a better position to promote a level playing field for everyone providing transportation for-hire services in King County.”
The Seattle City Council passed new regulations for the services in March. But the threat of a referendum going to ballot to repeal the regulations has Mayor Ed Murray negotiating with Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, which offers the uberX service, before the city enforces any of the new regulations.
By the end of next month, there could be some sort of compromise between the city and the companies, or a cease and desist order if Murray is not pleased with the outcome of the negotiations.
King County officials have stayed on the sidelines of the debate about services, which the companies call rideshare services even though they don’t meet the legal definition for rideshares. The services have been operating countywide for months as the popularity of their smart-phone apps soared.