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    Vote on Taxis, Caps for App-Based Transportation Network Companies

    Seattle Channel screenshot of taxi committeeUpdate: the Full Council vote has been rescheduled for Monday, March 17.

    This evening the City Council voted in committee to expand the number of licensed drivers who can drive for app-based transportation network companies (TNCs) like UberX and Lyft. The latest version of the legislation had capped the total number of TNC driver endorsements at 300, but the committee changed the limitation to 150 drivers active on a single TNC system at any one time. This approach allows for unlimited TNC driver endorsements to be issued, but limits the number of vehicles on the road for a TNC.

    Two weeks ago I wrote to explain why I do not favor a cap. I voted for no caps today; when that measure failed to garner a majority of votes I supported this compromise proposal.

    This debate has layered complex policy choices with the recognition that the City’s regulatory function will directly affect people’s livelihoods. I know none of my colleagues made this decision lightly and we will monitor its impacts closely.

    As discussed at the last committee meeting, the bill places a strong emphasis on public safety and dictates that all for-hire drivers (this includes TNC drivers) will be treated the same: same licensing, same training, same insurance requirements.

    All nine councilmembers attended today’s meeting and all nine will tentatively vote again on the final legislation at the Full Council meeting on Monday, March 10.

    And one clarifying point for users of these services: Uber town cars are licensed and regulated by the state and can continue to be in service; the City’s discussion about TNCs only touches on the apps that use personal vehicles like UberX, Lyft and Sidecar.

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