How to Regulate Rideshares in Tacoma

Tacoma is just beginning the conversation around regulation of so-called "rideshare" companies, and how they differ from taxicab companies.

Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft arrived in Tacoma in 2014, ahead of conversations about how they would be regulated. Tacoma's taxi code was last revised in 2007, but full implementation of some of those didn't come until much more recently, with cab drivers and companies complaining of the regulations even before Uber ever thought to arrive on the scene. Current taxi code regulations include a requirement for specific dashboard cameras, signage, alarms, a number of fees for individual vehicles and drivers, constant contact with dispatch, background check and training requirements for drivers, and insurance requirments. 

Rideshare companies in Tacoma currently have none of those requirements; all they need is a business license to operate transportation services.

Earlier this month the City Council got a summary of applicable regulations currently in place, and some options if they decide to make changes. That report included five basic ways the City might approach these new companies.

  • Regulate Non-Taxi Services as Taxis - In this case the rideshare companies would be added to the definition of transportation services covered by Tacoma's taxi code, making them subject to the same regulations as the traditional taxi industry in the city.
  • Create Modified Non-Taxi Services Regulations - This option would involve a separate category of for-hire transportation, with a modified list of requirements yet to be determined, but possibly including items like inspection requirements, video cameras, driver training.
  • Modify the Regulations on Taxis - This would roll back current regulations on traditional taxis in Tacoma, including those that have always irked the cab companies. Some regulations that could be removed include requirements for constant contact with dispatch, for keeping maps and complaint forms available, and required printed receipts.
  • No Regulations for Non-Taxi Services - By far the most lenient option for rideshare companies, this would pretty much leave things as they are, with no new city level regulations.
  • Prohibit Non-Taxi Services - On the other end of the spectrum, this would be the most draconian measure, calling for a change in the taxi code to explicitly prohibit rideshare companies from operating in Tacoma.

There are arguments on both sides around regulating the new breed of transportation, and it's not at all clear how it will all be resolved in Tacoma, or elsewhere. 

What do you think? Do you see the distinction between the old taxi model and the new rideshare model? What level of regulation makes sense?

Read more from the TNT.

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I love Uber and welcome it to Tacoma. I’d never take a cab but would gladly ride share.

May 29, 2014 at 6:52 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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