Seattle making plans to set a minimum rate for services like Uber, Lyft

Ride sharing has faced a few bumps in its approach to the rider-rich streets of Seattle

Having already led the way on the $15 minimum wage, Seattle is poised to set a minimum rate for car services like Uber and Lyft. The Seattle City Council approved Monday a resolution that will put City Hall on a crash course studying the so-called “transportation network companies” industry in an effort to better understand the possible impacts of forcing a minimum pay rate for drivers.

Monday’s resolution sets a proposed price point of $2.40 for a minimum base fare for TNC rides in Seattle — the companies currently charge a $1.35 minimum. Before Monday’s vote, Uber and Lyft drivers and customers spoke against regulation and what they said was union-driven interference in the industry. Council president Bruce Harrell went off script to forcefully deny that the Teamsters Union is driving Seattle’s effort.

In addition to the base fare issue, the resolution also sets a framework for possible further regulation of the industry including insurance requirements and new fees. The companies are also being asked to voluntarily provide data on rides, fares, and driver compensation to city planners.

Though recent reporting suggests that many drivers in the industry are unable to make a living through driving alone, in 2017, professional drivers were again the top-ranked new business created in District 3 neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and the Central District.

With ride sharing a critical component of the rapidly growing Seattle area’s transportation infrastructure, City Hall has been doing what it can to shape the industry’s labor practices as it has opened its streets to the services. In 2015, the council voted to give drivers collective bargaining rights, a move that immediately ended up in the courts and could be resolved soon by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the transformation of transportation as a sharing economy also is busy outside of Uber, Lyft, and countless startups’ lanes. A new era of battery powered bikes is now being tested for rental on Seattle streets and the car sharing industry has already evolved from a battle won by Zipcar to a consolidation industry where a merger with the city’s two leading providers is in the works.


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12 thoughts on “Seattle making plans to set a minimum rate for services like Uber, Lyft

  1. Doesn’t this city council have more important things to do than to interfere with people exercising the most fundamental elements of free will? Holy crap, why don’t they try to perform basic governance instead off being off in the weeds on stuff like this.

  2. Can’t Seattle City Council just ensure that drivers are earning at least minimum wage? As ugh noted, don’t they have more important things to do than analyze data from riders and fares?

    Dictating Uber/Lyfts base fares and per mile charges is extreme overreach. Seems Seattle City Council and City Planners have a lot of free time on their hands – too bad it can’t be used to tackle more pressing issues.

  3. Why? because taxis are highly regulated. That’s what this is ultimately about – an attempt to even the playing field between the rideshare industry and the taxi industry.

    There were historically some very good reasons for regulating the taxi industry. Before regulation prices were uncertain, customer service poor. Seattle even experimented with deregulating the taxi industry 40 years ago. From the quora answer:

    “Seattle’s period of taxicab deregulation over 1980 through 1984 comes up quite a bit because they deregulated both supply and fares. Supply increased sharply as did price gouging, customer service complaints, and fights at busy cab stands. They re-regulated both fares and license issuance after four years.”

    But because the prices are fixed by law, they can’t compete with a less-regulated competitor. So that’s what they’re trying to figure out, and I think it’s fair to ask for some data to inform the decision.

  4. City Council is such a bunch of clowns. Hey let’s just legislate the living hell out of everything. These guys can’t stand up to Unions no matter what. Who said this is a Union town? The Union?

  5. If there’s one thing learned in the politics of the 60s or even, for that matter in current Presidential politics it’s that when a politician like our Council President goes “off script to forcefully deny that the Teamster’s Union is driving the city’s efforts” by raising ride-sharing costs to seniors and those on limited incomes…well that’s the source of the blizzard of lies. Remember that folks, come election time.

  6. I know that the ride-sharing companies are quite popular, but I still feel for the taxi drivers, who no doubt have lost alot of income to the competition. They have to pay a ton of money to even get a taxi license in the first place. It’s not fair, and I support efforts to even the playing field.

  7. Why…. these are just taxi cabs by another name, why shouldn’t they have to follow taxi cab rules. I’ve never understood what it is that makes people think they are somehow different…

  8. Maybe Taxi’s should be deregulated too. Given how poor the experience and service are with Taxi’s, I would assume the prices would go down drastically.

    Why does the City Council feel the need to set minimum prices for anything in a city that’s struggling with affordability?

  9. If taxi drivers were a little less terrifying with their driving and actually showed up for calls, maybe they wouldn’t be so outclassed by rideshares. If the city raises the rates for rideshares, most people will still prefer them. Seniors and disabled people will, as usual, get the shaft.

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