uberxRide-sharing startups like Sidecar, Lyft and UberX can continue to operate in Seattle without regulation — for now.

The Seattle City Council committee on taxi, for-hire and limousine regulations is meeting right now to discuss possible elements of a permanent overall regulation reform package and what rules should be made in the interim.

There was some speculation that the Council would shut down these companies as they establish regulations. The city had laid out three different potential options, one of which would suspend operations for the ride-sharing companies.

In response, nearly 12,000 signed an petition on Change.org encouraging the City Council to refrain from shutting down UberX.

But City Council president Sally Clark just said there wouldn’t be any votes on that end today.

lyftside“We’re not looking to shut down UberX today,” she said. “That’s not happening today. It may never happen at all.”

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to legalize ride-sharing, as California became the state to initiate such regulations. Clark told GeekWire that she liked the model California adopted, one that requires ride-sharing startups to enforce company licensing, criminal background checks and a $1 million per-incident insurance coverage.

“I can say that based on the draft I read, they’ve adopted a compelling model,” she said. “For me, it addresses the insurance concerns, as well as concerns about driver background checks and vehicle safety.  However, the draft didn’t address the question of whether rideshare drivers should be licensed in some way. That’s an open question here.”

You can watch the meeting below. We’ll be following along and will post anything of importance today, but it looks like Sidecar, Lyft and UberX may continue scooting around Seattle for the time being.

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  • make it fair

    ride sharing companies should not be given a competitive advantage by the city. allowing them to operate without restrictions while the city continue to tightly regulate the taxis is unfair.

    taxis have to pay fees and taxes that ride sharing companies aren’t paying, including needing a taxi medallion that sells for $100K.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      $100K would be cheap for a city medallion. The city does not get that money – it is the license holder that sells the license on the black market. The city gets $650 a year.

    • tryingtocalmdown

      “make it fair” says it all. in other words, OVER regulate everybody so that the public is poorly served, new business models cannot emerge and consumers have the “choice” of black, white or gray. no thanks “make it fair” I will take disruption of regulated entities any day.
      do you think tesla should only be able to sell to consumers ONLY through dealers or should I be able to buy one directly?

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        Gypsy canbs are not a new business model – thery have been around for a long time.

  • robotlogic

    Good, ride sharing it NOT the same as Taxi and should not need to be regulated as such. The idea of ride sharing is another person joins you for your trip to a location that you are traveling too (or somewhere on the way) and they help you with fuel costs. This is far more efficient and cheaper than a taxi.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Fuel costs, huh? Not much of an incentive for the drivers. UberX charges the same rates as Taxis.

  • Guest

    The taxi regulation that exists is nothing more than private enterprise using government muscle to keep out competition. Why do we need taxi “medallions”? Why do they cost $100k? This is pervasive in many industries and does nothing to further the consumer experience. If anything it allows the privileged participants to get lazy and provide consumers with a crappy experience.
    Side note- remember when the train to the airport was going in and they were going to stop it a mile from the airport so taxi’s could take riders the last mile? There’s another example.
    Uber has a great app. The Yellow Cab app? Right. Uber is very punctual, the cars are clean, and it is half the price of a typical car service, usually cheaper than a taxi.
    The problem? Consumers are benefiting and there is competition so those older companies are crying to the government to impede competition instead of innovating themselves.
    Sack up boys, you’re business is going to look very, very different in 5 years and no, King County officials can’t preserve what you have.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Wrong. taxi regulation exsists to protect the public. It is to make sure that the vehicles are properly insured and the vehicles are in working order. UberX, Sidecar and Lyft are cutting corners and beng hailed as hi tech genuises.

      • tryingtocalmdown

        that is only a small part of it. taxi regulation does several things; one of which is to limit the “supply” of taxis. This would be fine if Seattle were NY, DC or SF where you can actually get a cab almost anytime of day in any populated areas. yes, regs can “protect” the public from rogue drivers or charging whatever they want but mostly the regs are barriers to entry.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          There is nothing written in stone that says taxi regulations have to limit the supply of licenses. In Seattle, the city did not have a cap on For Hire vehicle licenses until June, 2012. King county still issues FHV licenses to any buyer. But unlike the gypsy operations, the FHVs and taxis have to be licensed, provide proof of commercial insurance, post their rates, have meters inspected for accuracy, follow an approved color scheme so that the cabs can be identified. In the city, taxis and FHVs have to have cameras installed. The drivers have to get “for Hire” (cab driver) licenses.

          The cab owners are required to pay for L&I insurance to cover the drivers for on the job injuries. The cab owners have to pay sales tax on their lease revenue. The gypsies are doing none of that.

      • Guest

        Yes, because nowhere do I feel safer then in a taxi. Last time I checked all cars on the road were required to be insured and their drivers to have licenses.
        Further, every Uber car I’ve been in so far has been immaculate, well cared for, courteous drivers, and driven safely.
        I guess good things can happen all by themselves without regulation. Imagine that!

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          That’s nice. Your feelings about being safer won’t carry much weight if you are injured in an uninsured gypsy cab such as Lyft, SideCar or UberX.

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