Seattle City Council switches gears on rideshares; consumers win big

July 14, 2014

Last week, the Seattle City Council reversed course and repealed its earlier decision to artificially cap the number of rideshare drivers in the city. Today, the City Council cleared the next hurdle by legalizing rideshares by an eight to one council vote. The decision, based on an agreement spearheaded by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, gives consumers more choices in how they travel around Seattle’s congested streets.

Earlier this year, with strong support from the taxicab industry, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance to limit the way people travel. The council’s plan would have imposed artificial caps on the number of rideshare drivers operating within the city, stifling innovation and limiting consumer choices. In response, rideshare companies quickly gathered enough signatures to place a repeal measure on the November 2014 ballot.

In order to avert an election loss, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sought and found common ground between taxicab, for-hire, and rideshare service providers. Their compromise eliminates the Council-imposed caps on ridesharing, allows for-hire companies to pick up street passengers, and increases the number of taxi licenses. The agreement also established insurance requirements.

The Council’s about-face is a big step in the right direction. Adopting the Mayor’s plan provides more choices, lower prices, and better services to the traveling public – a clear example of how deregulation can serve the public interest.