uberxWhile Seattle has been trying to figure out how to regulate companies like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar for well over a year, Washington’s third-biggest city is just getting started.

Just a 45-minute drive down from Seattle on Interstate-5 is where the Tacoma City Council will meet this afternoon to discuss ways to regulate the app-based transportation startups.

All three companies recently started offering their services in Tacoma, home to just over 200,000 residents. The city does not have any additional regulatory requirements for UberX, Lyft and Sidecar other than a general City business license for transportation services.

However, Tacoma does have a full list of requirements for anyone who wants to drive a taxi in its city, including proper licensing, criminal background checks and training programs.

The meeting today will address five strategies that city staff have come up with to address this issue. They range from creating special laws for the companies — which allow everyday drivers to use their own cars to shuttle people around town — to prohibiting them from operating in the city at all:

Regulate Non-Taxi Services as Taxis: Regulate non-taxi transportation services the same as the City currently regulates taxi services. This would require an amendment to TMC to clarify in the definitions in the Taxi code to include other types of transportation services and subject the for-hire vehicles and drivers to the same requirements as the taxi cabs and taxi drivers.

Create Modified Non-Taxi Services Regulations: Regulate non-taxi transportation services with a modified version of the City’s current Taxi Code. Modifications could include requiring non-taxi services to have annual vehicle inspections, safety inspections, video cameras, andlor driver training. This would require an amendment to the Taxi Code to create a new regulatory scheme specifically for types of for-hire vehicles that are not taxis.

Modify the Regulations on Taxis: Reduce the current regulatory requirements on taxis by removing certain requirements. This list could potentially include removal of requirements for dispatch services and being in constant contact with a dispatcher, uniforms, monitored silent alarms, age requirements on vehicles, vehicle inspections requirements, to have maps and complaint forms available in the taxi, andlor the requirement to provide a printed receipt.

No Regulations for Non-Taxi Services: Do not create new regulations for non-taxi transportation services and allow them to operate their business with a general City business license and verification that the vehicles have received the appropriate for-hire state licenses.

Prohibit Non-Taxi Services: Do not allow non-taxi transportation services to operate in the City. This would require a change to the Taxi code specifically prohibiting these types of services.

In an interview on the Jason Rantz Show last month, Tacoma City Councilmember Ryan Mello expressed optimism for services like Uber in his city.

“I really want Uber to come to town,” Mello said. “I’m excited about it because as someone who likes to get around town as conveniently as possible, I want as many options as possible.”

Meanwhile in Seattle, the City Council passed an ordinance to legalize and regulate these companies in March. Those rules included a cap of 150 on the amount of “active” drivers each company could have on the roads.

In response to that decision, Uber and Lyft poured in more than $400,000 to a coalition that garnered enough petitions to suspend the newly-passed ordinance regulating their companies. Mayor Ed Murray is now trying to reach a new agreement between the startups and taxi drivers, but if nothing is on the table by the end May, Murray said he’ll issue a cease-and-desist letter to Lyft, UberX and Sidecar.

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  • pitbullstew

    The mayor of Seattle is going to strenuosly object at the end of May by issuing a cease and desist?

    Like the ones issued literaly aroiund the globe that these illegal operators have ignored?

    Oh My TOTO! Oh MY!

    You’re not fooling us, Uber! 8 reasons why the “sharing economy” is all about corporate greed

    Or, how to make money for Silicon Valley venture capitalists while pretending to espouse progressive ideals



    • ClaimsAdjuster

      Actually all the Mayor has to do is unleash the cab inspectors and police to enforce the existing For Hire laws. if the UberX/Lyft driver does not have a For Hire license – $1,000 fine. The C&D would just be icing on the cake.

  • pitbullstew

    Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t get run over today (you dont need to see his identification)?


  • ClaimsAdjuster

    What Uber cheerleader Taylor Soper calls “No regulations for non-taxi services” are actually state laws which currently govern most of Washington’s territory outside King County and a few cities. But state rules would actually require UberX and Lyft vehicles to carry commercial insurance issued by a carrier licensed by Washington to offer primary coverage. Their insurance company, James River, is a secondary carrier that does not meet the standards.

    TNC insurance costs $5,700 annually per vehicle. UberX and Lyft don’t want to carry no stinkin’ insurance.

  • Erik

    With ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft now providing services nationwide and in dozens of Puget Sound cities including Seattle, Federal Way, Kirkland, Shoreline, Bellevue, Shoreline, Lakewood, Fife and Steilacoom, it would be quite harmful to local residents and businesses to have it banned in Tacoma as some of the proposed heavy handed regulations would do. There are only three legitimate areas of regulations that the Tacoma should consider that other cities have addressed: 1) Insurance coverage, 2) Vehicle safety, and 3) background checks for drivers. Any other proposed bludgeoning regulations, some of which the City of Tacoma is now considering, would eliminate ridesharing services from being able to operate in Tacoma so as to eliminate any competition with traditional taxi services. Yet, with these companies complying with these regulations voluntarily, there is no need for Tacoma to do anything. Other than Seattle, none of the other dozens of Puget Sound cities are taking action against ridesharing services.

    Tacoma was recently very fortunate to have ridesharing companies agree to expand into the city. Ridesharing services are important to a city to reduce reliance on automobiles, reduce congestion, pollution, and demand for parking while supporting a vibrant economy. Ridesharing services are one of many transportation options that residents in progressive US cities use on occasions and is very popular with residents. Ridesharing services are often more convenient, faster, more convenient, and can be utilized with a mobile phone. Studies have show that ridesharing services greatly expand the number of people that are willing to use their automobile less often or not at all. Both drivers and riders have the opportunity to rate each other after the ride. Uber and Lyft drivers often make $30 or more an hour.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      “Yet, with these companies complying with these regulations voluntarily, there is no need for Tacoma to do anything.”

      If they are already are complying voluntarily with the insurance/vehicle safety/background regulations, then “these companies” should not have any problem with Tacoma’s proposed law.

      But of course, you know that UberX and Lyft are not actually complying with the regulations. A recent NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit broadcast a report that shows Uber’s policies can leave drivers and passengers in the lurch if there are accidents. And despite administering background checks, Uber still employs drivers with criminal records that include burglary, domestic assault and drug trafficking.


      Uber’s reaction to the lawsuit filed by Jason Herrera, an UberX passenger injured in the accident mentioned in the report 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.

  • Erik

    Fortunately, a number of Tacoma City councimembers are supportive of ridesharing services and do not want to eliminate them by onerous regulation:


    Councilmember Ryan Mello Speaks in Support of Ridesharing Services Uber and Lyft on KIRO Radio


    • ClaimsAdjuster

      When did one councilor become a “number of Tacoma City council members” ?

  • Erik

    Today, Uber expanded it’s coverage to Spokane. Uber now covers nealy every major city in the state and all of Puget Sound. If Tacoma’s enacts some of the proposed draconian “regulations” to essentially ban Uber and Lyft from operating in the city, it will be the only city in Washington State to do so.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      You forgot about Seattle and the Mayor’s vow to issue a Cease and Desist order on UberX and Lyft at the end of the month.

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