uberxTaxi drivers and those working for transportation network companies (TNC) will have another week to iron out an agreement that will allow Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to operate legally in Seattle.

Representatives from the San Francisco-based startups, taxi companies and City officials have spent the past month-and-a-half working with a negotiator to establish a new regulatory framework. Mayor Ed Murray had given the stakeholders until today to reach an agreement, and said he would issue a cease-and-desist letter to the TNCs if nothing was in place.

But a City spokesperson told GeekWire today that the groups are “close to a deal,” so Murray has pushed back his deadline by one week.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

If an agreement is reached next Monday, you can expect there to be some clarification on TNC insurance requirements, in addition to changes in regulation for the taxi industry in Seattle.

“We need strong insurance requirements, a level of deregulation for the taxi industry that would make them more competitive, and caps that would be acceptable to all parties,” Murray told GeekWire in April.

This entire process started back in March, when the Seattle City Council approved an original ordinance that regulated the new transportation companies, which utilize smartphone apps and everyday drivers to shuttle people around town. Though the ordinance would have legalized the TNCs, the startups weren’t happy with a cap on the number of active drivers (150) each company was allowed to have on the street at once.

In response to those regulations — which also called for 200 taxi licenses to be added by 2015 — a coalition group that received more than $400,000 in donations from UberX and Lyft submitted enough signatures to suspend the ordinance and send the referendum to a public vote.

That put everything back to square one and convinced Murray to hire a negotiator. The mayor wanted to bring all parties together to reach a revised agreement, rather than have the referendum be up for a vote later this year — which is what will happen if no agreement is made.

sidecarsmalll“I worry that with a referendum, a lot of people will spend a lot of money that could be spent better on their own businesses,” Murray said in April. “It will result in folks automatically losing their jobs and livelihood in an East African community — the largest immigrant group in Seattle — that is already deeply struggling financially and with a series of other issues.”

If a compromise is reached by next week, the City Council can repeal the original ordinance it approved and then work together on a new set of regulations. If that happens, the referendum would not appear on a ballot later this year.

However, if no agreement is reached, the referendum would show up either on the August or November ballot for public vote. In this case, Murray will issue a cease-and-desist to stop UberX, Lyft and Sidecar from operating illegally in the city without regulation.

But it sounds like representatives from the taxi industry and the TNCs are close to some type of deal. It will be interesting to see the details of a potential agreement, especially considering what some other lawmakers have set into place recently.

In Colorado, for example, the state just passed legislation that allows the TNCs to operate with certain stipulations for insurance — specifically determining when exactly drivers and passengers are covered — background checks, vehicle inspections, licensing fees and more.

Chicago, meanwhile, just approved laws of its own, which include stronger regulation for TNC drivers that work for more than 20 hours per week and the ability for city officials to cap “surge pricing,” a feature that companies like Uber use to increase prices when demand is high.

We’ll have more on this story later on GeekWire, so check back for that.

Comments

  • Guest

    Every time you write something like this “representatives from the taxi industry and the TNCs” it doesn’t make sense. Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc. are part of the taxi industry! Their vehicles are taxis! Today, you could write “representatives from the regulated tax companies and the unregulated and illegal taxi companies.” If they reach an agreement, you could write “representatives from the medallion taxi companies and the taxi companies that use drivers’ own cars.” But, no matter what, the idea that these upstart companies are not taxi companies is a fiction that you are buying. If you want to be accurate, you have to stop that.

  • guest

    “It will result in folks automatically losing their jobs and livelihood in an East African community — the largest immigrant group in Seattle — that is already deeply struggling financially and with a series of other issues.”

    So he knows the people want Uber, and he doesn’t care. It’s imposing a tax, effectively, on those who use Uber because of “a series of other issues”. That is bullcrap.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Uber wants to cut corners on licensing and insurance. Why should the Mayor allow them to do that? If UberX can operate in NYC with proper insurance and licensing then they can do it here.

      • UnderSerf

        Hey, CA, since anything goes now that apps rule the world, and laws are options enforced only on the majority while a tiny fraction of those regulated enjoy lassiez-faire treatment, can’t I use a motorcycle and a chat app to ferry students to college or groceries from store to customer? Just an idea…

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          A motorcycle taxi? What could go wrong?

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    In New York City an NYC UberX vehicle has to be licensed as a “For Hire vehicle” by the TLC (Taxi Limousine Commission). The vehicle has to carry TLC approved commercial insurance and the driver has to get a For Hire license.

    In most states, including Washington, UberX drivers are cutting corners with invalid non-commercial insurance. In NYC UberX drivers are shelling out $8 to $9K a year while here they are paying $800 annually.

    So the question is, if UberX drivers are operating with commercial insurance and for hire licenses in New York, why can’t they do that in Washington state?

    • guest

      In some parts of the world women are stoned for being witches.

      So the question is, if women are stoned for being witches in some parts of the world, why can’t they do that in Washington state?

      • YouGotAPoint

        Let’s do it!

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        So in your mind an UberX vehicle carrying proper insurance and the driver having a For-Hire license are equivalent to being stoned to death for witchcraft?

        You should take the inanity plea.

        • Guest

          Aren’t you the same man who likened hiring a taxi to hiring a prostitute? Who are you to judge a man’s sanity?

          • Kary

            You still don’t get it? It’s not that hard to understand. He was the one who suggested you could claim any illegal activity was legal just because it had an app. Prostitution was the example, and his terms of service was one of the best things ever printed in the comments to this site. For others how haven’t seen it, here is a link that will take you there if you wait for it to fully load. http://www.geekwire.com/2014/uber-app-come-pre-loaded-att-phones/#comment-1412342886

          • Guest

            Kary, please stay out of our discussion. ClaimsAdjuster speaks from self-proclaimed moral and legal authority, yet she wants to sell me a whore.

            Just sit back and listen. ClaimsAdjuster is very obedient; she replies when I ask her to.

            Speak, ClaimsAdjuster. Defend yourself, you condescending wannabe whoremongress.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            You like to give orders that you know will get ignored. Just last week, you demanded twice that I not reply to your posts. How did that work out, eh?

            You are off topic. Apparently you can’t defend Uber’s demand for special treatment in Seattle that it doesn’t get in New York City.

          • Guest

            I’ve mediated on our little discussion and I’d like to tell a little parable. Imagine a cow standing in a field of grass.

            I am the cow. You are the field of grass.

            The field of grass certainly looks vast and impressive, but it becomes less valuable as it grows taller. As the cow eats the grass, absorbing its precious life energy, the cow becomes larger. By providing milk and meat, the cow demonstrates a significant benefit to society.

            I know what you’re thinking — if the cow provides meat, wouldn’t it be dead? Of course, but by that time the cow would have produced another cow as offspring, ready to eat and transform the grass for the benefit of society.

            There’s more, but I’d like for you to do some mediation and to consider the benefits we provide to our audience.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            The posts you produce are manure so you could be a cow.

            See my icon? Does that look like grass?

            You are off topic. Apparently you can’t defend Uber’s demand for special treatment in Seattle that it doesn’t get in New York City.

            Don’t expect me to follow your meandering cowpath of discussion.

          • Guest

            I am a cow. You are a field of grass. You may need to mediate on this to understand it.

            Seattle is subject to the laws of Seattle, not to the laws of New York City.

            As a cow, when I decide that I have eaten enough grass, I may defaecate. This is good, because the grass relies on the nutrients in my waste so that it can grow again.

            Grow. Speak.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            Not insane, inane. But your inanity might well be the result of insanity.

            Canadian Uber-troll : “Aren’t you the same man who likened hiring a taxi to hiring a prostitute?”

            No

          • Guest

            Actually, you did. Here’s the link where you composed the terms of service for your new company, which you called Uber XXX:

            WARNING. THE FOLLOWING LINK CONTAINS LANGUAGE THAT GLAMORISES THE EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN.

            http://www.geekwire.com/2014/uber-app-come-pre-loaded-att-phones/#comment-1412342886

            WARNING. THE PRECEDING LINK CONTAINS MISOGYNISTIC LEGALESE.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            Thanks for providing a link to my post. Your faux outrage is duly noted.

  • Guest

    Do people not realize that many of Uber and Lyft’s drivers are in fact many of those same immigrants who used to drive taxis?

    • Ryder

      Yes, only they seem a lot happier.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Bassim Elbatniji was one of those immigrants. Then 9 days into his job as an UberX driver, he totaled his car with while transporting a passenger. His insurance company denied coverage on his non-commercial policy. Uber hid, would not return his calls and refused to compensate anyone. His passenger sued. Now ElBatniji has unpaid medical bills, a wrecked car and has to pay for a lawyer to defend himself in court.

      Now ElBatniji is less-than-impressed with Uber:

      “They destroyed my life. they didn’t change my life. My car is gone. And also the insurance after this happened denied me.”

      http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/1200*675/0424-Uber_accident.jpg

      Uber’s reaction to the lawsuit filed by Jason Herrera, the passenger injured in this accident is that Uber is a tech company that is not responsible for its cars or drivers. “…Uber warrants that it is a technology company and denies that it is a transportation company or common carrier” states the company’s response to Jason A Herrera v Uber Technologies

    • Kary

      I would hope that the City Council is considering a broader array of interests than just the drivers of either type of vehicle. The interests of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers are far more important than their limited interests.

      Oh wait, this is Seattle government. . . ..

  • Bob

    The taxi industry needs to take a long, hard look at what Lyft and Uber are doing to generate so much customer loyalty and spend a whole lot less time complaining about whether or not they have the same insurance or not.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      UberX and Lyft offer lower prices by cutting corners on insurance and licensing. The taxi industry has seen that before. No hard look necessary.

      • Bob

        You missed my point. Re-read the first sentence and concentrate real hard. It isn’t a price issue.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          I don’t miss your point, a-hole. I disagree with it.

          • Bob

            But you still don’t get it. I feel sad for you.

          • Ed O

            Do you use UberX? If not, how do you understand why they have customer loyalty?

            I do use UberX. I use it a lot (probably four or five times a week on average). I use taxis once or twice a week in addition, and the difference is night and day, and cost isn’t a big factor.

            1. The cars are all clean with UberX. They smell nice (with one exception, where it smelled like cigarette smoke).
            2. There are amenities. Chewing gum, phone chargers and bottled water are all relatively common in my UberX rides.
            3. The drivers are almost all more pleasant. More kind and considerate and more willing to smile.
            4. I feel like the UberX drivers have accountability to how they treat me. I usually give five star ratings, but I’ve had a couple of times where a driver got lost and/or missed the same turn a couple of times. I gave a lower rating and was personally contacted via email by Uber and was given a credit against my account after the company verified the driver’s error. Compare that to my experience riding a taxi, where I once had a driver add a “1” to a tip, so I tipped $12.37 rather than $2.37 (on a $7.63 fare). I didn’t have my receipt, so my credit card company couldn’t help, and when I called the cab company I was treated rudely and never even given the implication they were interested in helping me.
            5. Tipping a taxi driver, using a credit card (which they often do not want to accept), and/or off-meter rides in taxis really make me feel uncomfortable (to different degrees) and yet they happen. I would never NOT tip a driver, but it’s awkward. I rarely carry cash and yet I’ve had taxi drivers take up to five minutes, metaphorically dragging their feet, as they fill out the paperwork for a credit card. And I occasionally am given a ride in a taxi where the meter hasn’t started and I feel like the driver just makes up an amount–it’s very unpleasant, and I get the sense that someone who is willing to steal from his employer (or, at minimum, the government who should be taxing him) is probably not going to be happy when I call him out on it. So I say nothing. None of those issues exist with UberX.

            Is UberX cheaper? Probably, when I take into account tipping.

            Is that THE reason I use it? No.

            Licensing and insurance are irrelevant to me if I’m getting the rest of the experience that I currently am with UberX.

          • Guest

            Thank you, Ed O. You are very smart and very right.

    • Kary

      You’re right–they need to create a smartphone app ASAP. The drivers would probably like that too because it would give them the false sense of security that they knew who they were picking up.

      Also, although the ride-share drivers are at great risk due to the lack of insurance, the city’s concern about that is more for the passengers and pedestrians.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        The Flywheel app does the same thing as UberX. The difference is that Flywheel just dispatches to licensed and insured for-hire vehicles. Rates are the same as UberX and Lyft.

        If Flywheel can do that in Seattle, why can’t UberX and Lyft? If UberX can operate with proper licenses and insurance in New York City, why can’t they do it in Seattle?

        Answer: They can but don’t want to. Also New York City doesn’t put up with their nonsense unlike Seattle and California.

  • Guest

    Thanks! We knew that Ed “Comcast” Murray wouldn’t shut TNCs down. There’s just too much benefit.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Apps are a dime a dozen. Uber is hardly indispensable. Flywheel does the as UberX and Lyft same thing without demanding special treatment.

  • pitbullstew

    what a limp noodle woosie this mayor is…why do those who #playbytherules have to work something out with those who have broken every law on the books every where to begin with? what is it with Seattle city hall who come down hard on existing fully compliant operators but Molly coddle law breakers?

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      The mayor is in a no-win situation. On one side he has Uber and Lyft, who blew $400K on a signature gathering effort to put an illegal referendum on the ballot, on the other, he has the east African community, the largest immigrant group in the city, who are heavily invested in taxis and for hire vehicles. Whatever decision he makes, he will piss some one off.

      In the golden state, the ICPUC (Incompetent California Public Utilities Commission) has been bending over backwards to allow the TNCs to cut corners. Although the Commision was warned repeatedly last summer by the Insurance Commissioner and the CHP about the insurance gap that their regulations legalizing TNCs allowed, the ICPUC charged ahead. The Sofia Liu death was not enough to get them to plug the gap. Now the ICPUC is having hearings to study the issue with a decision expected this summer.

      Meanwhile Representative Bonilla’s bill requiring the TNCs to provide primary insurance for their drivers has passed the California House. The tortoises at the ICPUC better speed up their decision making process or the legislature will pass them by.

  • Kary

    Read the terms of service first. Per another post you’re consenting to arbitration by using the app.

  • Scotty

    This code will make your first ride free, up to $25.00. Download the Lyft app. The code must be typed in before you click “Request Lyft”. Enter code: SCOTTY164 and enjoy your ride! http://www.lyft.com/invited/SCOTTY164

    • Kary

      Same comment as with the Uber promotion. Check the TOS–you might be agreeing to arbitration if you are injured and discover there is no insurance coverage. That would be like agreeing to have Judge Judy decide your case.

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