The press release from Mayor Ed Murray’s office called today’s announced agreement between the taxi industry and rideshare companies like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar “historic.” That, of course, is debatable.
But whether or not the Murray-brokered agreement - which, among other things, would eliminate the cap on rideshare drivers mandated under previous City Council legislation - constitutes an occasion worthy of the history books, one thing is certain: The deal is another political victory a mayor that came to power thanks in large part to his promises of collaboration. Murray has now struck a deal to bring a $15 an hour minimum wage to Seattle, and apparently ended the long-running war between taxis, for-hires and rideshare companies -- all within six months of taking office.
“The agreement honors the taxi industry’s historic role in Seattle as a key component of the city’s transportation infrastructure and as a vital source of jobs, particularly for Seattle’s immigrant communities. It also embraces this rapidly transforming industry and recognizes that Seattle must stand at the forefront of innovation and not impede new ideas or add the burden of unnecessary regulations,” Murray says in a statement issued to the press, which was preceded by a celebratory press conference. “I am grateful for the willingness of all of the parties to come together in the spirit of compromise and consensus in order to find common ground.”
Here are the what the mayor’s office is calling the “key terms” of the agreement, which still must be approved by the City Council:
Transportation network companies and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet specific insurance requirements.
The City will work with the industry to clarify or change state insurance law to account for recent changes in the industry, similar to recent actions in Colorado.
There will be no cap on the number of transportation network company drivers.
The City will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years.
Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right that is similar to a medallion in other cities.
For-hire drivers will have hailing rights.
An accessibility fund will be created through a $0.10 per ride surcharge for drivers and owners to offset higher trip and vehicle costs for riders who require accessibility services.
“Today’s announcement recognizes that the innovation economy is critical to Seattle’s future and we thank Mayor Murray for his leadership in reaching a compromise that benefits both riders and drivers,” Brooke Steger, Uber’s general manager, offered up for the official Murray press release. Meanwhile, Abdul Yusuf, a member of the For Hire Drivers and Owners Association, said: “The For Hire drivers and owners thank Mayor Murray for bringing all parts of our industry together in order to reform city regulations to create a fair and competitive market for our services.”
According to the mayor’s office, Murray will now work with the City Council to repeal the suspended ordinance, which included caps on rideshare drivers, and “new legislation will be transmitted in the coming weeks.”