Seattle City Council OKs measure on for-hire car services, taxi cabs

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A Lyft Ride-share car. File photo.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council on Monday approved a deal brokered by Mayor Ed Murray with the  taxi industry and for-hire driver services such as Uber and Lyft.

A group of taxi owners, dispatch companies, for-hire owners and drivers and transportation network companies convened on April 16 to come up with a plan to save both for-hire services and taxi services as the two had been fighting for months. The group came to an agreement recently that seemed to please a majority of parties; that’s what was approved by the City Council Monday.

The deal is for all for-hire companies to continue operating without a cap placed on the number of drivers on the road at any time. Previously, the Seattle City Council had maintained a cap on the number of for-hire drivers, only allowing 150 active drivers on the road at any given time.

Other key terms of the proposed deal include:

  • Transportation network companies and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet specific insurance requirements.
  • The city will work with the industry to clarify or change state insurance law to account for recent changes in the industry, similar to recent actions in Colorado.
  • The city will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years.
  • Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right that is similar to a medallion in other cities.
  • For-hire drivers will have hailing rights.
  • An accessibility fund will be created through a $0.10 per ride surcharge for drivers and owners to offset higher trip and vehicle costs for riders who require accessibility services.

“Today’s Council vote was one for the history books,” Murray said in a news release. “I want to thank the Seattle City Council for repealing the initial for-hire legislation last week and today voting in favor of maintaining the principles of the legislation I recently transmitted: balancing the legitimate interests of all sides, protecting public safety, and promoting access to a broad array transportation options in Seattle.

“I am also grateful to all parties across the transportation industry who participated in creating this framework. Your hard work and spirit of compromise led to the agreement we developed together which will enable all parties in the industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public. We could not have done this without your participation.”

Murray said the deal wasn’t easy to come to, but fairly compensates drivers and owners alike. Representatives from different sides came praised the deal.

“The taxi industry is pleased that we can now compete and will soon offer mobile app technology,” Amin Shifow, a wheelchair-accessible taxi operator, said.

“The For Hire drives and owners thank Mayor Murray for bringing all parts of our industry together in order to reform city regulations to create a fair and competitive market for our services,” Abdul Yusuf, a member of the For Hire Drivers and Owners Association, said.




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