Those looking for a Lyft ride in Tacoma, Wash., will have to find alternative transportation options.
Lyft drivers have temporarily stopped picking up passengers in Tacoma as of Dec. 1 over a dispute with new regulations the City Council recently passed.
A Lyft spokesperson told GeekWire that the council “passed regulations that would have required duplicative individual licenses within the same coverage area, a burden for drivers who service the greater Seattle area.”
Lyft’s issue is that it has drivers who work both in Tacoma and Seattle, which is 45 miles north up Interstate-5 and has its own license requirements for uberX, Lyft, and Sidecar drivers. Lyft said its drivers will still drop off passengers in Tacoma, but will not pick up any rides originating in the city.
Maria Lee, a spokeswomen for the City of Tacoma, noted that Lyft told city officials that it does “not have the resources to administer the licensing process for their partner drivers in multiple cities.” Lee added that there are no plans to change the new regulations, which were unanimously approved in October.
“The current regulations were developed in partnership with Lyft, Uber and the local taxi companies to accommodate the type of for-hire services being offered, and to have an easier process for licensing for both for-hire drivers and vehicles while continuing to ensure the safety of the public and for-hire drivers,” Lee said.
Indeed, Lyft’s coverage map no longer includes the Tacoma area:
Meanwhile, Uber told us that uberX — its service that lets drivers use their own cars to shuttle people around town — is still fully operational in Tacoma. However, Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger said that she hopes Seattle and Tacoma lawmakers can adopt “streamlined regulations that help promote safety and reliability across the Puget Sound.”
Update, 1:45 p.m. — Here’s a statement from Tacoma City Councilmember Joe Lonergan:
“The Government Performance and Finance Committee, together with our Tax and License Department, worked diligently and cooperatively with representatives from Lyft, Uber, and taxi services to arrive at a revised code that included input from all parties. The full council adopted the committee’s proposed for-hire transportation regulation revisions and in doing so provided a path for TNCs to operate legally in Tacoma and throughout Pierce County. These revisions were focused on maximizing the opportunity for a safe and comprehensive for-hire transportation network while minimizing the barriers to entry for drivers. As with any independent contractor or business, drivers are required to hold a City of Tacoma business license. Specific to for-hire transportation services (TNC and Taxi Companies), there exists a licensing process to ensure protections for passengers and drivers including criminal background checks, driver training, vehicle condition inspections, and insurance.
I am thankful for Lyft’s participation in the process of developing the regulations of for-hire transportation services in our community. Even though the final product incorporated their input, I can appreciate Lyft’s business decision not to operate in Tacoma or Pierce County. At the end of the day, we have provided a streamlined regulatory environment and we have already seen an increase in transportation options for those who live and visit Tacoma and Pierce County. I believe we have laid solid foundation that will allow companies to start or expand into our community.”