Is the Playing Field Even Now?
Posted: March 19th, 2014 under Councilmember Rasmussen.
On Monday, the City Council passed Council Bill 118036, the rideshare ordinance that you very likely have read about. I have received over 12,000 messages from Seattle residents on this issue, mostly urging the Council to oppose caps on the operations of companies such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar. I appreciate all of the comments I have received, from both sides of this issue.
If you have followed this debate, you know that I strongly oppose caps to rideshare companies (also known as transportation network companies, or TNCs). I believe Seattle needs more transportation choices, and these companies are another valuable addition to our region’s transportation system that should not be arbitrarily restricted. You can read more of my thoughts on why I oppose caps from my earlier blog post on this issue.
At our recent Council meeting, I sponsored an amendment to eliminate caps on TNCs. That amendment failed, 3-6.
Council Bill 118036 was about much more than caps to TNCs, however. Until now, TNCs have been operating illegally within Seattle. This legislation ensures that TNCs can operate legally in our City and are safe for passengers, TNC drivers, and other drivers on the road. It enacts reasonable regulations that require insurance coverage for TNC drivers and companies, mandated vehicle safety inspections, driver background checks, and more. That is why I decided to join my colleagues to vote for the underlying bill, which passed unanimously, 9-0.
The anti-TNC speakers repeatedly requested the Council to “even the playing field” between taxis and TNCs. I think that we have met that demand with the regulations we enacted on safety and insurance. It will be interesting to see how well the taxi companies respond to what I think is their greatest challenge: the expectation of quality customer service – a simple app on a smartphone will not resolve that.
While my effort to prevent a limit on the number of TNC’s was not successful, I will continue to work to increase transportation choices for people in Seattle. I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Mayor’s Office, and the TNCs to ensure that these popular services and other innovative services such as Car2Go are welcomed in Seattle and can continue to operate and thrive.