Lyft to battle Seattle City Council: ‘We’re prepared to fight for your right to share rides’

lyftstickerEven though the Seattle City Council already voted to enact laws that will regulate app-based transportation companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar, the California-based startups are still letting their displeasure be heard.

Today, Lyft sent out an email to customers with a subject line titled, “Defending your right to Lyft.” In the letter, Lyft employee Emily Castor lambasts Seattle’s city leaders for their decision to cap the number of active drivers that a company like Lyft can have on the road to 150.

“Ride-sharing has become wildly popular in Seattle, but City Council doesn’t get it,” Castor wrote. “Last week, they voted for barriers and caps that would crush ride-sharing just as it is beginning to blossom.”

lyft-pinkCastor wonders “why would City Council try to stop a service people love,” and notes that the city’s decision is not about “passenger safety” nor is it about “helping taxi drivers.” She links to Lyft’s safety protocols, which “beat those required for taxis,” and said that Lyft offers its drivers higher earnings and more flexibility than those in the taxi industry.

Rather, she accused the Council of protectionism.

“The real motivation behind this law is protecting wealthy taxi companies from competition, favoring one industry over another,” she wrote. “Council is ignoring the will of the people, but we will not. We’re prepared to fight for your right to share rides.”

The email includes a link to claim a 10-pack of #SaveLyftSeattle stickers, which you can see above.

“Let’s show City Council that they can’t stop innovation any more than railroads could stop Henry Ford or Blockbuster could slow the growth of Netflix,” Castor wrote, using the Netflix analogy noted by councilmember Tim Burgess last week. “Together, we are unstoppable, and this is only the beginning of our battle to protect your freedom to ride. We’ll be in touch again soon with more news about how you can help.”

Lyft supporters gather at a City Hall rally in February.

Lyft supporters gather at a City Hall rally in February.

At least a few councilmembers will undoubtedly have issue with claims made in the letter. For starters, Sally Clark, who chaired the Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations, made it clear at the last meeting that UberX, Lyft and Sidecar do not fall into the state’s definition of “ride-sharing.”

“UberX and Lyft are not ride-sharing companies,” she said last week. “They are for-hire.”

And councilmember Bruce Harrell, who also sat on the committee, probably wouldn’t agree with the notion that the Council “crushed” ride-sharing.

“The headline should not read that the City Council capped anything. It should read as the City Council allowed ride-shares to come into an industry,” Harrell said last week. “The bill sets up a conceptual framework for us to start stepping out of the regulatory arc and let technology and consumer choice dictate what we’re about to do. But we are not there yet.”

Despite the new legislation, Lyft recently announced plans to expand its service across the greater Seattle area. It also ditched its donation-based payment system in the city and has moved to mandatory pricing requirements.

Uber has also expressed frustration with the Council’s decision and said it will “absolutely keep fighting” the approved ordinance.

Meanwhile, on Monday The Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming that the service has violated city, county and state laws, and “engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”

Related: Here’s what happened when my family got hit while riding a Lyft … Taxi drivers defend suit against Uber in Seattle, say they want level playing field

  • Ryan Bender

    While Uber was loud and aggressive, Lyft and its fans were awfully quiet leading up to and during the Seattle council meeting. Just saying. To make these claims about the taxi industry now is, well, pretty weak if you ask me. And wow, this Blockbuster vs. Netflix debate has to stop. It’s pathetic, lazy, and makes you sound like an idiot. Nobody has ever died renting a video (Sofia Liu). The main issues at hand are not around innovation (the technology is great, duh), it’s about following the laws that have been put in place to protect drivers, riders, the general public, and fair competition. Sheesh. Lyft respect has been lost.

    • Ed O

      No one ever died driving to get a video from a rental store? Really?

      • ejmalone

        My dad was on his motorcycle and hit by a deer after returning some video tapes.

        Who does he sue? Big game needs to pay.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        Too bad Ryan did not say “No one died driving to get a video from a rental store”.

    • silasl

      Lyft held a rally. It’s been vocal and going to meet with the city on a regular basis. Taxis have been acting illegal and with discrimination for a while because they are not accountable. Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar all hold drivers accountable for their actions and behavior. With insurance now fully in place there is no reason to deny these superior companies from giving the city of Seattle what they want.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        Lyft/Sidecar/UberX still rely on driver’s policies, mostly non-commercial, as the the primary insurer. The TNCs hope that the driver can successfully committ insurance fraud by filing claims for their taxi business against their personal policies. So, no, the insurance is not “fully in place”.

        • Silas Lindenstein

          If the claim is denied by personal insurance, the uber/Lyft insurance kicks in. So, yes, it is fully in place because there is no risk to anyone.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            Sorry, an insurance plan that is built on fraud is not “fully in place.” Furthermore secondary insurers, such as Uber’s Bermuda based James River Insurance Company, are not required to pay a claim if the primary insuarnce is invalid, as is the case with most UberX/Lyft drivers.

          • Silas Lindenstein

            Well, they’ve been paying out the claims as secondary insurance when applicable.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            That is what the sleazeballs that run these comapnies would like you to believe. The true test comes when there is a Sofia Liu type accident. Uber is fighting paying out anything in that case.

    • tryingtocalmdown

      Uber was loud and aggressive? It looked to me that the cabbies and sign wavers were that way.

  • elbowman

    More Uber FUD. It’s all about $$. They want it, and don’t want to play by the established rules, because it costs more. The rules in place today got there because we had unregulated taxi services in the past. Bad things happened to customer, cabbies, and the companies. Seattle City Council doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

    Those who are pumping the Uber/Lyft/Sidecar bandwagon don’t remember, or choose not to remember, why we are where we are.

    • ejmalone

      Deregulation in the 70′s has nothing to do with today’s issues.

      The TNCs will operate under the same rules as for-hires, as stated by the council vote a couple weeks ago. No one’s complaining about that.

      However the TNCs will come under scrutiny in a year when the council revisits the caps, and Uber is already under fire by a lawsuit from the cab operators.

      It’s no surprise Lyft and the like feel the need to to keep up with the PR efforts. Please try to keep on topic with the actual issues at hand.

      • Guest

        “The TNCs will operate under the same rules as for-hires, as stated by the council vote a couple weeks ago.”

        FALSE – Existing taxi companies are much more regulated, their fares are determined by the city, and they are not allowed to do the things that the new taxi companies have been doing illegally.

        “No one’s complaining about that.”

        FALSE – Lyft, Uber, Sidecar are all complaining loudly. Boohoo! The rich VC-backed California taxi companies are whining that the city decided not to ban them completely. That’s what this article is about! Did you read it? The more they whine, the more convinced I am that they are corrupt.

        • ejmalone

          Taxis and for-hires are not the same. Nice try.

        • tryingtocalmdown

          the tncs cannot and have not picked up hails. ONLY taxis can do that. for hires and limos cannot. the taxis have that privilege in return for the higher level of regulation. the underlying system is part of the problem (not adovcating “deregulation” as that didn’t work). the city council chickened out and sided with the entrenched incumbents who play politics better.

  • John Kane

    Emily Castor, the Lyft employee, is delusional when she talks about the “wealthy taxi cab companies.”

    in my community, nobody is getting rich owning a cab company or driving for a cab company.

    Cab companies have HUGE costs, from fleet repairs to sky-rocketing insurance rates to fuel costs. AND THAT’S WHY UBER AND LYFT WANT PEOPLE TO USE THEIR PERSONAL VEHICLES: Uber and Lyft bypass the normal costs of running a cab company and push it off on the drivers of their personal vehicles.

    But the other reason she’s delusional is that Uber and Lyft are the ones with millionaire funding behind them. It’s really comical the way all these Uber and Lyft employees have the same Libertarian talking points. It’s a very organized campaign by the owners of Uber and Lyft to attack regular working class people, to demonize taxi cab drivers. That’s how these companies are going to succeed: by demonizing regular working class people as “greedy” and as a “cartel.”

    And the other reason Uber and Lyft can tout a supposedly shiny record for service is that if they don’t have a car for you THEY SIMPLY TURN YOU AWAY. That’s right. If they can’t get you a driver– which is on a first come first serve basis– their app will tell you “No Driver Available.” They don’t put you in any kind of cue. They don;t even TAKE your call or info. Traditional cab companies at least take your call, give you a time estimate as best they can, and try to get you a cab ASAP. So if someone waits for a traditional cab, they get frustrated. Uber and Lyft give you the back of the hand and don;t even try to get you a cab. So OF COURSE there customers seem like such a happy bunch: if they can’t get you a cab (driver) right away, they decline to even take you info. How’s that for “innovation”? A cab company that does not take your call.

    • Rick Navarro

      TOTALLY NAILED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tryingtocalmdown

    there are only a couple real issues here. the insurance issue is real–personal vs commercial in a for hire or commercial setting. the companies and/or drivers need to have adequate coverage for liability so that when an accident or mishap occurs, passengers have the same coverage as they do with cabs/for hires.

    secondly, the seattle city council, which likes to think of itself as “progressive” is actually “conservative liberal”. meaning that they fell back on the same ol’, same ol’ regulatory scheme–a bunch of entrenched city bureaucrats who are cozy with the drivers associations/unions/medallion owners. these new services force them to do something and its easier to regulate them either out of existence or out of the incumbents way.

    which brings up the third issue–that of supply. the regs are bad in that they severely limit the number of tnc drivers–which does one of two things. it means surge pricing goes way, way up due to lack of supply, angering customers who then suffer the wait for a cab or passengers just go without supply–the reason why these companies have demand. the limitation of supply, either by medallion hoarding, non issuance of them or limitation of alternatives is what is really wrong here and much of it is “political”. when the riders rise up and unelect a sally clark or bruce harrell, then there is chance for some more intelligent regulations.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      These companies have demand because they are cutting corners on licensing and insurance which allows them to offer lower prices.

  • jamz111

    Use this pr0mo code to get $25 credit on your first LYFT ride. No strings attached

    X6FFQH

    And you can also get $20 credit for Uber by using this code:
    NVC0JD
    That fourt character is a ZERO

  • RoadWarrior

    I’ve been a Lyft driver in San Francisco for over 10 months and love it. I meet lots of awesome people and get to be a point of positive interaction in people’s day. Let the people have what they want!

    If you’d like to try out Lyft, enter my personal code; ANDREW3028 in the ‘Payment’ section of the app before your first ride request. You first ride will be free (up to $25) !