City Still Working on Getting For Hire Transportation Regulation Right

The City of Tacoma is working to develop regulations to cover both traditional taxi companies and new rideshare businesses like Uber and Lyft.

At its meeting this Wednesday the City Council's Government Performance and Accountability Committee heard from City staff on progress so far to craft rules to cover both kinds of businesses. They also heard feedback from the affected companies during public comment.

Taxi companies in Tacoma face a list of specific requirements around licensing, insurance, and other measures aimed at protecting the safety of both drivers and passengers. Up to this point rideshare companies are subject to none of those, including no requirement for individual drivers to carry a taxi license, wear a uniform, install security cameras, or any number of other requirements that apply to taxi drivers.

As it stands now, the City is considering adjusting the code covering taxis to lower existing requirements on cab companies, while including rideshare businesses under the same category for regulation. Uber and Lyft both insist that they are technology companies, not transportation companies, and so should not be lumped in with taxi companies for regulation. 

Plans aren't finalized yet, but changes being discussed could lower fees for cab companies, and remove requirements for in-car safety precautions like security cameras and silent alarms. On the other side of the coin, changes could require rideshare drivers to obtain licenses and pay fees, and to abide by other requirements including annual vehicle inspections. The Committee will hear its next update at a future meeting, probably on September 3, which means that a full council vote on any changes is at least a few weeks out.

Uber isn't waiting to see the final legislation before it responds, though. The rideshare company is already mobilizing support. In an email sent earlier this week, Uber urged supporters to lobby on its behalf.

... the Tacoma City Council is considering passing an ordinance that would stifle ridesharing by requiring harsh regulations that simply don’t make sense.  We need your help to encourage the Mayor and City Council members to take the time to embrace common sense regulations that support innovative companies like Uber.

Join us by emailing Mayor Strickland and the City Council below. Let them know that #TacomaNeedsUber and why ridesharing is important to you.

Since Uber, Lyft, and others started offering their rideshare services in Tacoma earlier this year, the question of how the businesses should be regulated has been drawing attention, allbeit not on the scale or with quite the level of controversy we've seen in other cities like Seattle.

Do you agree that #TacomaNeedsUber? Does #UberNeedMoreRegulation?

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