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UberX supporters wave posters during last week's City Council meeting.
UberX supporters wave posters during last week’s City Council meeting.

During last week’s City Council committee meeting in Seattle, several councilmembers voiced frustration over the fact that app-based transportation services like Lyft would not reveal data about how many drivers they had.

But now, with a crucial vote looming later this month, the companies are speaking up.

The total number of transportation network company (TNC) drivers between Lyft, UberX and Sidecar in Seattle is approximately 3,000. Here’s the breakdown:

UberX revealed its statistics on Thursday afternoon, noting 900 total drivers in Seattle. The company also said that the number of active drivers “regularly exceeds” 300 at any given moment.

A few hours later, a Lyft sent out a statement noting how “1,000 drivers have gone through the safety approval process to join the Lyft platform.” How many of those drivers signed up long ago but do not drive anymore is unclear.

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Sidecar has about 1,000 drivers in Seattle.

Last month, Sidecar told us it had “nearly” 1,000 drivers in Seattle.

These numbers are important — specifically the “active” statistic — because the city is expected to enforce caps on each company later this month. The city wants to limit, to 150, the number of drivers that companies like UberX, SideCar and Lyft can have on the road at any given time — hence the “active” language.

We reached out to Sidecar and Lyft to ask how many “active” drivers they have during busy times, but both companies declined to say.

While Sidecar offered its data nearly one month ago, UberX and Lyft decided to reveal numbers on Thursday after the Council expressed their concerns last week and voted 5-4 in favor of a cap. 

“Getting data from the companies is still a challenge,” Sally Clark, chair of the Committee on Taxi, For Hire and Limousine Regulations, said at the meeting last week. “I’ll highlight that as a challenge for any of these proposals.”

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The Seattle City Council met on Feb. 27 to discuss how to regulate companies like Lyft, Sidecar and Uber.

“Once we start collecting that data with that large of a sample, we will start to have a pretty good idea about, do we have the right number to meet demand on Friday night; are there too many during the week,” committee member Mike O’Brien added.

Joe Mirabella, social media manager for Ed Murray, also made the same point today during an exchange on Reddit.

“You should know the City requested data on the number of active drivers from the companies multiple times, but they did not provide that information,” Mirabella wrote. “It would have been helpful for the Council so they could make a decision based on concrete data, but instead they compromised with each other to come up with the 150 number.”

How this new data will affect the voting at the highly-anticipated March 17 City Council meeting still remains to be seen. Perhaps city leaders still want more detailed information past what has been provided.

The final vote was originally scheduled for March 10, but councilmember Nick Licata will be out of town next Monday. The week-long delay gives companies like Lyft, Sidecar and UberX more opportunity to round up support and rev up the marketing engines — although UberX might want to watch where they stick their promotional posters.

However, if the Council doesn’t budge from its stance last week, the ordinance will be forwarded to Mayor Murray. He’ll have a chance to veto the proposal; if he does, the bill goes back to the full Council. But if six of nine councilmembers vote to approve the ordinance, it will become law.

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