Ridesharing services like UberX, Lyft and others will finally be able to legally operate in Seattle without fear of bans or driver caps, after the city council voted 8-1 in favor of legislation that would create a new regulatory framework for these "transportation network companies" (TNCs).
Council members generally agreed that the move to legalize ridhesharing services will be helpful in bringing new transportation options to the city. “I’m interested in seeing how this legislation helps this city become a better city,” said council member Bruce Harrell.
The lone member who voted against the legislation was Mike O’Brien, who said issues around safety and insurance still need to be worked out.
“There are still lots of problems with this. It’s not a question of whether Uber and Lyft can afford to innovate. The question is, do we ask them to provide coverage at their expense, or do we put people at risk?”, O’Brien said.
He first sponsored a motion to push the proposed ordinance back to the Taxi and For-Hire Committee for further analysis. However, that was voted down 7-2. Then he introduced amendment “J”, which required startups to offer exclusive insurance coverage at all times. That too was was voted down 5-4.
Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar recently expanded their insurance policy to provide coverage to drivers when they are live on the system but may not have a passenger in the car.
Back in March, the city council approved laws putting a cap on the number of vehicles that TNCs could operate on the road at any given time. However, the ordinance was suspended the following month after Mayor Ed Murray brought together all the stakeholders, including legislators as well as traditional taxi operators, to reach a deal.
The news comes a week after the Taxi and Limousine Commission declared Lyft an “unauthorized service” in New York City, two days before its planned debut.