Seattle City Council Advances Work Plan to Overhaul Regulations for Taxis, Uber and Lyft

The resolution comes up for final approval on Monday.

April 4, 2018

Kevin Schofield


This story originally ran on SCC Insight.

For more on what’s happening with taxis and ride-share services in Seattle, read this month’s cover story, “Seeking Direction,” written by Kevin Schofield.

Yesterday, the council voted out of committee a resolution establishing its work plan for revising regulations on taxi, for-hire, and TNC (e.g. Uber and Lyft) services.

The resolution aligns with the list of issues Council President Bruce Harrell first proposed in December. Among those are:

  • Data gathering from companies to inform policy. Uber and Lyft have been particularly reticent to hand over data about their businesses.
  • Setting minimum charges across all segments of the for-hire transportation industry to ensure fair market access to all participants. There are two issued behind this: first, ensuring that unregulated TNC companies dont underprice heavily-regulated taxis; and second, either directly or indirectly setting a minimum wage for Uber and Lyft drivers to support those who drive full-time.
  • Transitioning to a regional license system for taxis, for-hire vehicles, and TNCs. The dual-license system between Seattle and King County for taxis has been a sore issue for some time, and Harrell would like to tackle it.
  • Consolidation, leveling and standardization of operating fees.
  • Adding flexibility to insurance standards.
  • Establishing a Bill of Rights for drivers and passengers.
  • Expanding the Seattle-King County Taxicab Advisory commission to cover taxis, for-hire vehicles, and TNCs.

Council member Mike OBrien added an amendment this morning that specifically requests additional data on drivers from all companies, including TNCs. The amendment adds a deadline (May 31, 2018) and threatens that if the companies dont deliver the data the city may pass legislation to require it.

Fortunately for the Council, the state legislature failed to pass either of the two bills it was considering that would have put statewide regulations in place for TNCs, because that would have preempted Seattle from passing its own laws. The Council now has a fairly wide open landscape for its legislative work.

The Councils resolution specifies a timeline for developing the legislation, with recommendations done by the end of June and legislation passed by the end of September. It wont be a simple process, as the TNC driver community continues to be deeply split on whether the industry would benefit from increased legislation

The resolution comes up for final approval on Monday.