uberxdriversseattle
Lots of UberX drivers available in Seattle on Monday morning.

If you’re looking for a ride in Seattle these days, waiting for an Uber vehicle will likely not take more than 10 minutes.

That’s because there are more Uber drivers on the city’s roads than ever. This is particularly true for UberX, Uber’s cheaper service that allows everyday people to use their own vehicles to transport people around town.

I took a couple UberX rides in Seattle this weekend, and both of my drivers said that there are now more than 2,000 UberX drivers.

Back in March, Uber said it had 900 UberX drivers in Seattle. That means in just four months, that number has more than doubled.

The influx of new drivers comes as Seattle prepares to enforce new regulations for services like UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar — also known as transportation network companies (TNCs). The City Council last week approved new legislation that will create a regulatory framework for the companies to operate in.

That law, which will require TNC drivers to pay for licenses, will be enforced some time in the next 90 days. How many drivers decide to pay licensing fees in order to continue driving remains to be seen.

[Related: My Uber got pulled over by the Denver police — and then things got really weird]

But it’s clear that the TNCs are outnumbering taxi and for-hire vehicles by wide margins. In March, there were about 2,000 combined Lyft and Sidecar drivers — that number has likely increased since then and there very well could be more than 4,000 TNC drivers in Seattle.

For context, there are just 688 taxi licenses and about 200 for-hire vehicles in Seattle. While the new legislation will add 200 taxi licenses over the next four years — the first time the city has increased taxi licenses in more than two decades — the TNCs appear to be taking over the market.

uberxUber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger wouldn’t specify how many drivers Uber now has, but noted that “we partner with thousands of drivers in the Western Washington region.”

Meanwhile, while taxis and for-hire vehicles must adhere to rates set by the City, the TNCs have continuously dropped their prices. In June, UberX slashed its prices by 25 percent in Seattle, while Lyft did something similar in April.

It will be interesting to see if Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar continue to add drivers to their platforms, and whether or not more customers start using their services. It’s a transportation supply and demand experiment that would have never happened had the City Council decided to cap each company’s active driver count to 150, like it had originally decided.

The growing demand for TNC services is not all that surprising given a study that the City of Seattle conducted last September, which noted that the market for taxi alternatives was “growing rapidly.”

But unlike Seattle, some cities have kept companies like Uber and Lyft out of its cities. For example, today Seoul began banning Uber and said it would create its own app dispatch system.

Comments

  • Are you sure?

    Realize that drivers are unlikely to actually know the inner workings of Uber. If your only data is word of mouth from two random drivers, that number might not be anywhere close to accurate. You should see if Uber Seattle will verify that number with you.

  • Idontthinkso

    Thanks for the traffic and pollution!

    • http://www.exposingmilabs.blogspot.com/ Exposing Milabs

      Actually, it means LESS Traffic and Pollution. People are Car Pooling to go out and night. It also gets drunks off the street and at 2am, they’re ALL drunk! This is a good thing, don’t be stupid!

      • Idontthinkso

        Don’t be stupid, you tell me? You’re the one who’s ignorant of the fact that the automobile IS the old system. Wake up. Ride “sharing” companies nibble at the edges of a massive, glaring sustainability problem. Continued hard-headed dependence on a failed design isn’t progress.

        • http://www.exposingmilabs.blogspot.com/ Exposing Milabs

          Please allow 24 hours and sometimes more for a response. If this is urgent, please red flag your email and put urgent in the heading. Thanks, RUBY

  • elbowman

    So, doing the math, how will a “TNC” driver be able to make a living?

    If there’s another TNC driver on every corner, how will one driver get enough fares to earn enough money to survive?

    You see, there’s a reason licenses and cabs are capped. If you reduce the total number of drivers they have a chance to earn a living wage. If you remove all caps then no one can survive.

    • rick gregory

      It’s called… the market. If someone doesn’t make enough money as an UberX driver, they’ll stop driving. “Enough” will vary – some people do it as a part time thing to bring in a bit of extra money, some do it as a primary income. But if there’s too much supply for the demand the income per driver will fall, some people will bail out and we should see an equilibrium at some point – enough drivers are making enough money that it’s worth their while and there are enough to fulfill demand.

      Or, of course, we could try the command economy version of restricting supply by fiat – that never fails.

  • http://www.exposingmilabs.blogspot.com/ Exposing Milabs

    It depends on the city you are in. Each city has a website link from the main Uberx dotcom or Uber dotCom website and it breaks down the fee system for you. Oddly, LA has the lowest paid Uber drivers which really surprised me having lived in LA. I’d never heard of Car2go before. Lyft is generally cheaper than Uber but use older model cars, even trucks w tiny backseats. I’ve heard some negative Lyft stories but a few Uber ones too in fairness. Especially since Uber has started hiring a lot of ex/current taxi drivers that don’t speak English well and have cabbie mentality. Which at least in Nashville is the # 1 complaint from Uber riders regarding cabbies here. That and the “cash only” scam saying cc machine no work, But they’re happy to charge you by taking you to an ATM to get cash. EVERY single customer I’ve had tells the same story. That, and making single women very uncomfortable and even frightened by the way they come on to young women. I was there once in Chicago. Scared the shit out of me at 22! One of these days I’ll post on youtube some video of one of my nights and ask customers if I can record with their permission. You’d be amazed how every initial conversation starts.
    Über Power!

  • robotlogic

    One would think that Uber type drivers create less traffic and use less fuel since “prowling” for fairs is not a necessary requirement. Also, I hate when you catch a cab at the airport and you have to get in the “next” cab in the taxi line. I always seem to get the funky smelling taxi with crap music playing in it. Being able to look at someone rating before you select them to drive you somewhere is a big plus for me!

  • http://www.lyftvsuber.com Liz Miller

    Taxi companies protesting against Uber is akin to telegraph companies protesting against email. Evolve or perish. Go to http://www.lyftvsuber.com/ to try out Uber or Lyft for yourself! The website compares the two most popular ride-sharing services. $30, $25 of FREE ride credit for new passengers and up to $500 sign-up BONUS for new drivers!! Drivers can make as much as $40/hr! Hope you can see what all the hype is about :) Thanks!!!

  • Guest

    Awesome. Thank you, Uber, for creating thousands of jobs. Thank you.

  • Hamza Yusuf

    I worked as an UberX driver for over 2 months and logged over 600 rides. I quit once Uber slashed the rates early in Feb. According to Uber’s weekly statistics, I was consistently better than their “top” performers. Even when the rate was at $2.55/mile, I actually made very little even though I “earned” over $1,000/week. Once they slashed that to $1.36/mile, it was foolish to continue. Most of the drivers drink the Kool-Aid and drive for Uber because they think it is cool and fun. Economically, it is a disaster for the driver, though it can be hard to see why. The problem lies with the increased wear and tear on the vehicle and the fact that you really have to drive 2 miles for every mile you are actually paid. To get rides, you have to go to where people are looking for a ride, and then back again.If you don’t go back, you don’t get fares. I kept track of my mileage for at least 30 days to come to the 2 miles for every 1 paid conclusion. Gas, depreciation, and maintenance are at least $0.50/mile. That’s $1/paid mile since it is 2 for 1. That leaves you with $0.36/paid mile divided by 2, or $0.18/mile driven. Uber then takes its 5% and you are left with about $0.15 for each mile driven. This calculation does not even take into consideration your increased personal risk of injury or the very likely scenario where your insurance company will not pay your claim for damage or injury since you were using the vehicle for commercial purposes. If you don’t tell your insurance co that you were driving commercially, it is likely fraud. I enjoyed driving for Uber and was disappointed to have to end it, but I had to be realistic. When you take the time to analyze what is really happening, you realize Uber is just a way for you to drive other people around while sucking all of the value out of your car and paying it back to yourself. Some business model, though if there actually is a sucker born every minute, Uber will be fine. Don’t listen to the shills that constantly post comments on every article about Uber. Set down that glass of Kool-Aid and do the math yourself or talk to an accountant.

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