Seattle won’t be known as the city that rejected ridesharing after all. Mayor Ed Murray announced an accord Monday in the ongoing battles between Seattle’s taxi companies and new-era car services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. The “historic agreement” will provide “a framework to enable all parties in the for-hire industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public,” a statement from the mayor’s office reads.
Here are the key components of the deal, according to the announcement.
· Transportation network companies and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet specific insurance requirements.
· The City will work with the industry to clarify or change state insurance law to account for recent changes in the industry, similar to recent actions in Colorado.
· There will be no cap on the number of transportation network company drivers.
· The City will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years.
· Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right that is similar to a medallion in other cities.
· For-hire drivers will have hailing rights.
· An accessibility fund will be created through a $0.10 per ride surcharge for drivers and owners to offset higher trip and vehicle costs for riders who require accessibility services.
The latest regulations must still be approved by the City Council. In March, CHS reported on legislation to regulate new services like Uber that set caps on the numbers of drivers who could participate. What followed was continued disagreements and legal threats. The proposed caps on the numbers of drivers allowed to operate with the new services were especially contentious. The new deal seemingly puts off any remaining legal threats to the regulations and should allow the new services to continue to operate in Seattle. For anybody tired of the historically poor service offered by the area’s leading cab companies, the agreement is a clear victory. For anti-corporate shuttle activists? Well, the agreement will give them more protest targets.