Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is not pleased with the Seattle City Council’s current moves toward regulating Uber and other ride-sharing companies.
On a conference call about his company’s decision to expand its insurance coverage, Kalanick was asked about how UberX would operate in Seattle if the City Council votes this Monday to limit the number of drivers the company could have on the road at any given time.
“I think the short answer is that the rules are designed to incapacitate Uber and make it unusable,” Kalanick said.
Kalanick said that the proposed regulatory system Seattle City Councilmembers voted on last month would make Uber work more like the city’s taxi system, with the company being unable to meet demand from many of its users. He went on to say that the changes would also be detrimental to the company’s drivers, and that the Council would be responsible for more people being on the “welfare line.”
While Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have all provided the total number of drivers that are on their platforms in the city, none of them have told the City Council how many active drivers they typically have online. When asked if his company would be willing to share its data with the City Council in the interest of making a compromise, Kalanick was adamantly opposed to the idea. He said that the caps were not beneficial for either Seattle citizens or drivers, only the city’s taxi companies.
When discussing city politicians, he said that opposition to Uber and other companies like Lyft and Sidecar often comes from city leaders who have been taking campaign contributions from the taxi industry.
“And guess what, those folks usually end up being the people who end up running the Transportation Committee,” Kalanick said.
It seemed like a veiled stab at Seattle City Council President Sally Clark, who leads the council’s Committee on Taxi, For-hire, and Limousine Regulations, and has been a proponent of placing caps on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar.
When it comes to the upcoming vote in Seattle, Kalanick said that the company is focused on getting UberX drivers and passengers to speak up about the positive experiences they’ve had with the service to encourage the city to avoid imposing caps.
One ace in the hole that Kalanick may play. You may recall that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos — who just happens to be building a big company in downtown Seattle — is an investor in Uber.