After nearly one year of deliberation, the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 Monday afternoon to enforce new legislation that will regulate app-based transportation companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar.
These companies will be allowed 150 cars on the road at any given time. That means Lyft can have 150 drivers at one time during the day or night — same goes for Sidecar and UberX, or any other similar “transportation network company” (TNC) that decides to set up shop in Seattle. If Lyft had 151 drivers on the streets, for example, it would be illegal.
The companies haven’t revealed how many active drivers they have on average, but there are about 3,000 total drivers between the three of them.
At a subcommittee meeting on Feb. 27, the Council voted 5-4 to approve the regulations. Today the ordinance was officially approved and will take effect 30 days after Mayor Ed Murray signs it (Murray cannot veto this because there were at least six votes for approval).
“We can’t dodge this problem any longer,” said Sally Clark, who chaired the Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations. “What we decide today isn’t a complete fix, but it is a start.”
There were also several amendments approved, the most important of which forces the TNCs to abide by the state’s requirements for commercial insurance. There was another amendment that prevents TNCs from creating spinoff companies — Uber cannot create an UberY, UberZ, for example.
“Let’s listen to what the public is saying,” he said. “Let’s not cut supply when demand is so high.”
Two others — Sally Bagshaw and Tim Burgess — voted in favor of Rasmussen’s amendment.
“Someone told me that trying to limit TNCs would be like prohibiting Netflix because we wanted to protect Blockbuster,” Burgess noted.
But the six other councilmembers voted that idea down. Bruce Harrell, who voted last month in favor of the 150-cap, said that the city’s vision in the coming years is to remove caps and let consumer choice “dictate what’s out there.” But for now, the approved legislation lets TNCs operate legally in Seattle with oversight.
“The headline should not read that the City Council capped anything,” Harrell said. “It should read that it allowed the ride-shares to come into the industry.”
After the meeting last month, neither TNCs or those from the taxi industry seemed happy with the city’s decision, which was ultimately approved today.
We just live-blogged the discussion, which you can read here. We’ll have reaction from both sides up on GeekWire shortly, so stay tuned for more coverage.
- Live blog: Seattle City Council votes on controversial regulations for UberX, Lyft, Sidecar
- Breakdown: What the key players are saying about Seattle’s ride-sharing cap
- Hey, Seattle, why stop with ride-sharing? Cap these 10 other innovations while you’re at it
- House of Cars: Lessons in politics from Seattle’s ride-sharing saga