Photo via Uber.
Photo via Uber.

Heads up, Tacoma taxi drivers: You’re about to have new competition.

Just weeks after Lyft and Sidecar began offering their transportation service in Washington’s third-largest city, Uber announced today that it will offer rides in the region next month.

In a blog post, Uber includes a link for interested drivers and a form for businesses that want to partner with the company. Uber notes that while its drivers have been giving rides in Tacoma “for some time,” now it is officially setting up shop in the city. The San Francisco-based company will first offer its cheaper service, UberX, and then roll out other more expensive options later.

Tacoma, located 45 minutes south of Seattle down Interstate-5, currently does not have specific regulations for these app-based transportation companies other than a general business license requirement. City spokeswoman Maria Lee told us last week that elected officials are currently looking into the issue.

uber2121The transportation companies can expect to face some backlash if city leaders decide to regulate the services in the same way they do with taxis. Tacoma has 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.

However, in an interview on the Jason Rantz Show, 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.”

The Seattle City Council last week voted to cap the number of vehicles that UberX, Sidecar and Lyft can have on the streets at one time to 150 after nearly a year of deliberation. Debated topics — which several other cities in the country are also grappling over — included, among others, insurance requirements and a “level-playing field.”

Mello, however, said he doesn’t think there needs to be any sort of cap in Tacoma.

“As far as I’m concerned as a customer who wants to have options, I don’t see the public policy reason for having a cap,” Mello said.

The City of Tacoma currently licenses about 115 taxis in the area. Mello said he’s unaware of any cap that’s been placed on taxis. Listen to his interview on KIRO Radio here:

Comments

  • Guest

    I love GeekWire, but, over and over, you are slanting coverage to what some well-funded companies from Silicon Valley want you to say.

    This sentence is blatantly false, with a spin highly desired by these new taxi companies: “The Seattle City Council last week voted to cap the number of vehicles that UberX, Sidecar and Lyft can have on the streets at one time to 150 after nearly a year of deliberation.”

    Correct reporting would read “The Seattle City Council last week voted to ALLOW UBERX, SIDECAR, AND LYFT TO OPERATE.” Up until that vote, what they were doing was clearly illegal, and it may even be illegal now. That will be decided in court, not in the talking points of these companies.

    And this sentence is comical: “The transportation companies can expect to face some backlash if city leaders decide to regulate the services in the same way they do with taxis.” These are taxi companies, not some vague “transportation companies.” And the “if” is just dumb. Is there any reason whatsoever that a new taxi company shouldn’t be treated the same as an existing taxi company? Whatever Tacoma’s regulations are, they should apply equally to all taxi companies, period. The new taxi companies want to claim they are a special case, but they have no valid reason that should be the case.

    So far, the reasons why these new taxi companies shouldn’t have to follow existing laws and regulations boil down to:
    * They built an app
    * They got a lot of money from Sand Hill Road
    * They’re clean
    * They’re convenient
    * They whine a lot
    * They’re committing insurance fraud

    Please, GeekWire, you can do better.

    • Wapner

      Did I miss something? Has there been a trial and were the companies convicted of something? Until that is decided calling them illegal is merely your opinion.

      • ClaimsAdjuster

        Not opinion. Law.


        TRANSPORTATION OF PASSENGERS IN FOR HIRE VEHICLES

        RCW 46.72.010 The term “for hire vehicle” includes all vehicles used for the transportation of passengers for compensation,

        RCW 46.72.020 No for hire operator shall cause operation of a for hire vehicle upon any highway of this state without first obtaining a permit from the director of licensing

Job Listings on GeekWork