Seattle councilmember Bruce Harrell, right, speaks at Thursday’s committee meeting.

Seattle is set to regulate the number of drivers that companies like UberX, SideCar and Lyft have active on their systems at any given time.

The City Council today voted 5-4 to cap the number of drivers active on each system to 150 at any given time during the day. That means Lyft would be allowed 150 drivers at one time — same goes for Sidecar and UberX.

This isn’t quite set in stone yet. The full Council will meet again March 10 and make an official vote, though since every councilmember voted at today’s committee meeting, the decision isn’t expected to change.

There were several options debated during today’s meeting, from eliminating caps altogether to limiting the number of overall Lyft, Sidecar and UberX drivers altogether.

More details are at our live blog from today’s meeting.

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  • ivanoats

    If I can’t use UberX, it’s likely I’ll be buying a car, and driving it, alone. Way to go, “green” city.

    • ideaguy

      Yes. This is nuts. Can we get this city council people not re-elected?

      • frederigoxcz305

        My Uncle Harrison recently got Infiniti Q50 Sedan from only workin
        part time on a home computer… go to this website B­u­z­z­3­4­.­ℂ­o­m

    • coolpimpdaddy69

      How is driving your own car any less “green” than having someone else come pick you up in their own car? You know, when they drop you off, they’re back in their car alone. If you actually want to be green, grow up and take the bus.

      • Guest

        Sixty percent of the environmental impact from a car comes during its manufacture. By not buying a car, I’m saving the env.

  • drigotti

    Does the city set a limit on the number of taxis at a given time? (I really don’t know the answer, just asking.)

    • Nigel

      Yes. Cities sell taxi licensees to taxi companies. in order to get those licenses they must pay insurance, meet safety standards, and drivers must meet background checks. This is why taxis are mad at Uber and they have legit complaints. However over-regulating Uber to the point of putting them out of business doens’t help citizens as they offer a more efficient form of transportation.

      • Sl

        How is Uber’s transportation “more efficient”? It’s a car and a driver, just like a taxi. It might be a better experience, but I don’t see any signifigant efficiency gain.

        • Guest

          > How is Uber’s transportation “more efficient”?

          Hailing a taxi involves standing out in the cold, leaning into the flow of traffic, and waving frantically at cars.

          Hailing an Uber involves sitting in your comfortable open-one-bedroom flat, pressing a button on your phone, and being told exactly when and by whom you will be picked up. Furthermore, the fare rates are significantly lower than a taxi.

          The efficiency gains come from less time being spent waiting, less risk of being struck by a vehicle or by a psychoman (of whom we have many in downtown Seattle), less time leaning into the flow of traffic, less money being spent, and should I go on?

  • ideaguy

    This is a public safety issue. People stranded without transport could be assaulted. Insane public policy.

  • Guest

    Is the number of services also limited? Or can UberX, UberY, UberZ, … all have 150 each. Seems like a clever operator could just organize that way.

  • Guest

    We live in a representative democracy, where we are told we have elected 9 men* to represent our city of 634,535. A majority of the Seattle residents support low-cost mobile ridesharing, so we should expect that our representatives echo our views.

    Today, five men have contravened the duties of their offices, and as a result, they do not represent the people of Seattle. We therefore have no option but to urge against their reelection.

    Sally J. Clark, you have voted in a way that undermines Seattle residents’ rights to high-quality, affordable transportation. As a result, we recommend against voting for Sally J. Clark.

    Jean Godden, your vote represents an ignorance of your constituents’ preferences. As a result, we your constituents are not to vote for you.

    Tim Burgess, you have not voted in a way that favors Seattle residents who want an inexpensive, reliable, environmentally sound transportation option. We cannot recommend voting for you.

    Tom Rasmussen, your vote today is wrong for the people of Seattle. We the people will not reelect you.

    Sally Bagshaw, we cannot recommend a vote for you in your next election based on your unacceptable behavior today. Please seek other employment once your current term ends.

    Bruce A. Harrell, Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, and Kshama Sawant: well done. Your votes are correct, and as a result we are inclined to keep you on our council. Please continue to fight for the people of Seattle.

    * In this comment, “man” and “men” refer to the species, not to the gender of any individual.

    • The Lord’s Warrior

      * In this comment, “man” and “men” refer to the species, not to the gender of any individual.
      It’s just as sad that you had to clarify that.

    • Guest

      This is pretty offensive. Who are you to be the decider of how people vote? The vast majority of the people in Seattle haven’t heard of these companies, and I would guess a large majority would not support them if they knew there are no licensing, safety, or insurance requirements for these illegal taxis (because they’re illegal), and that the companies are going out of their way to avoid following local laws.

      • Guest

        (Left pane)

        A man needs a taxi. He frantically checks his watch. Ten minutes pass. He waves at a cab, but it doesn’t stop. Five minutes pass. He waves at another cab; it pulls over and the man gets in. The cab smells abhorrent. The cab arrives at the destination. The passenger offers to pay by credit card; the driver must laboriously make an imprint of the passenger’s credit card, write up the paperwork, and obtain a signature.


        (Right pane)

        A man needs a taxi. He removes iPhone from his pocket. He touches an application (or “app”) to summon a taxi. The app displays a 1-meter-accurate map of where his taxi is. “Arrival in 3 minutes,” iPhone says. Precisely 3 minutes later, a modern, clean, pleasant-smelling car operated by an affable man pulls up. At the destination, the passenger’s credit card is automatically charged a lower fare, including a tip, and a detailed receipt is instantly emailed to the passenger.


        Fade to black.

        Display photo of Jim Technocrat (to be replaced with a suitable candidate). “Hi. I’m Jim Technocrat. Wouldn’t your life be made better with technology? I know mine has been. As a Seattle city councilman, I will use technology to fix our city. I’m Jim Technocrat, and I approved this message.”

      • Echo Limousine

        True, some of their drivers do not posses a commercial license to drive nor have passed a limo or taxi exam. Echo Limousine is taking a stand in Chicago against Uber, please call 7737741074 to find out more

  • Stephen Medawar

    2 Questions:

    1. How does this effect Uber (not UberX)? Are they part of the UberX cap?

    2. How many drivers (UberX + Lyft + SideCar) are on the road at any given time in the Seattle city limits? 450 cars, plus 950 (1100 by 2015) taxis, plus Uber (?), and Car2Gos seems like a lot of service, but I have no context to asses this.

    • balls187

      Uber falls under Towncar for hire, so this shouldn’t impact that aspect of their business.

    • Taylor Soper

      Like balls187 said, this is only for UberX. About your second question, we’re not exactly sure. The companies don’t reveal numbers — it’s one thing that bugs the council. I’d ballpark it at around 2,000, 2,500 total drivers combined between the three companies.


    Before considering to driver for uber consider this.

    The true looser in all of this is the Uber-X driver. People who driver for Uber-X are very short and near sited. The rate for Uber-X is only benefiting the Customer and Uber, Driver will have a car with over 100.000 Miles in a YEAR.

    They do not make enough money to even cover a new car.
    Look at the math: From 100 % of a regular taxi rate.
    Deduct 20 % Less for customary taxi driver tip which Uber refuses to enforce.
    Deduct 20 % Less for commission to Uber
    Deduct 30 % Less for rates below normal taxi rates.

    What is left is only 30% for the driver. So what is the profit for the long term? NOT A DIME, they end up car-less in a year :).

  • Some Guy

    So, seattle’s local politicos are brain-dead, like local politicos everywhere else? I’m so surprised.

  • Charbax

    The real revolution comes when all cars become ride-sharing cars, not only closed networks of selected drivers, what we need is the Airbnb of carsharing, Everyone with a car must be able to signal that they are “ready to pick someone up on the backseat who needs to go in the same direction the driver would go to anyway”. Such rides would be 3x to 5x cheaper, drivers would not be ones spending their whole days doing rides but instead just anyone with a car going in any direction getting used to meeting new people on the back-seat or perhaps even front seat like lyft thing. Real p2p ride sharing is the future, not overpriced Taxi-wannabe proprietary things like Uber and company. Oh, and by the way there is no way regulators will be able to stop the “Airbnb of car sharing” surely there is a Mitfarhgelegenheit or whatever it’s called in USA, those probably already exist and once they get built as good as Airbnb, they will be the most important improvement.

  • Zachary Reiss-Davis

    Did the discussion include how they randomly picked “150 drivers”? Start at 1000 drivers, and take off 5 for every large donation from a taxi company? It seems arbitrary, and I simply can’t figure out what problem they’re trying to solve for.

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