UberX supporters wave posters during last week's City Council meeting.
UberX supporters wave posters during last week’s City Council meeting.

During last week’s City Council committee meeting in Seattle, several councilmembers voiced frustration over the fact that app-based transportation services like Lyft would not reveal data about how many drivers they had.

But now, with a crucial vote looming later this month, the companies are speaking up.

The total number of transportation network company (TNC) drivers between Lyft, UberX and Sidecar in Seattle is approximately 3,000. Here’s the breakdown:

UberX revealed its statistics on Thursday afternoon, noting 900 total drivers in Seattle. The company also said that the number of active drivers “regularly exceeds” 300 at any given moment.

A few hours later, a Lyft sent out a statement noting how “1,000 drivers have gone through the safety approval process to join the Lyft platform.” How many of those drivers signed up long ago but do not drive anymore is unclear.

Sidecar has about 1,000 drivers in Seattle.

Last month, Sidecar told us it had “nearly” 1,000 drivers in Seattle.

These numbers are important — specifically the “active” statistic — because the city is expected to enforce caps on each company later this month. The city wants to limit, to 150, the number of drivers that companies like UberX, SideCar and Lyft can have on the road at any given time — hence the “active” language.

We reached out to Sidecar and Lyft to ask how many “active” drivers they have during busy times, but both companies declined to say.

While Sidecar offered its data nearly one month ago, UberX and Lyft decided to reveal numbers on Thursday after the Council expressed their concerns last week and voted 5-4 in favor of a cap. 

“Getting data from the companies is still a challenge,” Sally Clark, chair of the Committee on Taxi, For Hire and Limousine Regulations, said at the meeting last week. “I’ll highlight that as a challenge for any of these proposals.”

The Seattle City Council met on Feb. 27 to discuss how to regulate companies like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.

“Once we start collecting that data with that large of a sample, we will start to have a pretty good idea about, do we have the right number to meet demand on Friday night; are there too many during the week,” committee member Mike O’Brien added.

Joe Mirabella, social media manager for Ed Murray, also made the same point today during an exchange on Reddit.

“You should know the City requested data on the number of active drivers from the companies multiple times, but they did not provide that information,” Mirabella wrote. “It would have been helpful for the Council so they could make a decision based on concrete data, but instead they compromised with each other to come up with the 150 number.”

How this new data will affect the voting at the highly-anticipated March 17 City Council meeting still remains to be seen. Perhaps city leaders still want more detailed information past what has been provided.

The final vote was originally scheduled for March 10, but councilmember Nick Licata will be out of town next Monday. The week-long delay gives companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX more opportunity to round up support and rev up the marketing engines — although UberX might want to watch where they stick their promotional posters.

However, if the Council doesn’t budge from its stance last week, the ordinance will be forwarded to Mayor Murray. He’ll have a chance to veto the proposal; if he does, the bill goes back to the full Council. But if six of nine councilmembers vote to approve the ordinance, it will become law.

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  • Joe McGrath

    “Once we start collecting that data with that large of a sample, we will start to have a pretty good idea about, do we have the right number to meet demand on Friday night; are there too many during the week”
    Why is this an issue to the city council? Wouldn’t supply and demand dictate this? How is rationing by force in the best interest of the consumer?
    Why are they not focused on either 1) if the current method of regulating taxis need to be updated so they are able to compete with these new businesses or 2) is there a measurable accountable process in place to ensure these new companies are providing reliably safe services.

    • Joe Marini

      You are making the classic mistake of assuming that the City Council does what is in the best interest of the citizens.

  • pitbullstew

    So what we are reading here is that the TNC’s have enticed other wise law abiding citizens to join in on this highly dubious and illegal scheme by putting themselves and their personal vehicles out for hire depite NOT having any required local county or state permits, or submit to real background checks, pre requisite drug screens, nor being ADA (Americans With Disablities Act) compliant in the public they service or hiring practices, while at the same time NOT having for hire commercial insurance as required under the law making them possible co-defendants in any cvil or criminal legal action for surge (price gouging) pricing as regulated by the FTC under th interstae commerce clause and federal banking laws, to say nothing of not paying their taxes.
    Do I have that correctly?

    • Mike

      How are they not ADA compliant. As far as I can tell, they don’t limit who can be a driver or passenger based on a disability. Are you saying they should have a minimum number of people who fall under the ADA guidelines to be drivers and also have a minimum number of disabled accessible vehicles available for service at any given time?

    • http://www.michaeljaccarino.com Michael Jaccarino

      I’ve used Lyft before and it was a completely enjoyable experience. Lyft does background checks on all their drivers prior to possibly hiring anyone. Those that do get hired then have to go through a background check. Additionally, they have $1,000,000 liability insurance. While I’ve never used Uber or Sidecar, I’m sure they have something in place as well.

      Additionally, I’m not sure why you would assume that tax dodging would be any higher for these services as opposed to any other freelancer or cab driver (how many do you think report their cash tips)? While I’m sure there are drivers of these services that won’t pay taxes, their income is recorded as payments is handled via mobile (including tips). Forms are then sent to the drivers and I’m sure these companies report the amount each driver made as they need to do a write-off (the companies receive all the money and then the money goes to the driver).

    • Slaggggg

      Pitbullstew – I can see you are getting so few taxi fares now you do nothing but post on these forums all day.
      What is pit bull stew anyway? Do you eat pit bulls? Gross. Sounds like you hate animals as much as you hate freedom from government intrusion in our lives.

  • Guest

    Uber, I support you.

    Sidecar, I support you.

    Lyft, I support you.

    Taxis, adapt or die.

    • Mike

      Part of me agrees, but I do believe it’s important to have some standards that Uber, Sidecar, Lyft and any other taxi service must abide by. Having insurance appropriate for this type of operation is vital. Having proper training and background checks is vital. That said, Yellow Cab and STITA are some of the worst traffic offenders in the Seattle area, maybe an overhaul of how they all operate is needed right now.

      • Slaggggg

        Why? Does everything in life need to be regulated? What business does the government have telling these startups how to run their business? It’s a private transaction – I call a car, it arrives, takes me someplace, and I’m done. Nearly everyone (Who doesn’t own a taxi) loves Uber, Lyft, etc. Why do we need government to come in and mess this up ?

        • Guest

          Slag, just ignore Michael. As technocrats, we are not subject to the 19th-century laws of heretofore relevant politicians. We now make the rules.

  • Heather Arias

    I’ve used all three and I truly think Lyft is the best experience for the passenger. The drivers are so nice and fun.

    And if you haven’t tried it out yet, enter code “PROMO1” for a $25 credit. The code doesn’t expire and I’m almost certain it can be used in any city Lyft is available.

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