Seattle Tries to Limit Number of E-Hailing Ride Service Drivers on the Road

Bad news for those who want choice and convenience in hiring rides out of Seattle, from GeekWire:

The City Council today voted 5-4 to cap the number of drivers active on each system to 150 at any given time during the day. That means Lyft would be allowed 150 drivers at one time — same goes for Sidecar and UberX.

This isn’t quite set in stone yet. The full Council will meet again March 10 and make an official vote, though since every councilmember voted at today’s committee meeting, the decision isn’t expected to change.

It wasn't like old-fashioned "rile up the people" lobbying wasn't done, and successfully, by UberX on behalf of themselves and the idea of e-hailing ride services.

As this Seattle Weekly story explains, they got local heroes from the Seahawks to Macklemore publicly on their side, and just as concerned fans, not paid lobbyists. 

According to Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger, the rules Seattle’s taxi committee seems poised to impose “are some of the most devastating” the company has seen proposed in any market. “Being from here, and thinking about how open-minded and progressive this city can be,” Steger says of the proposal, “to me it’s shocking.”....

Steger says the “Seahawks have been wildly supportive of us,” and that many of the players utilize Uber’s services. Of Macklemore’s endorsement, she says the Grammy winner reached out to the company to see how he could help, and that all the support he’s provided on social media has been of his own mind...

With its message effectively out, the question now for Uber and Seattle’s other ride share outfits is how effective the rallying will be....

“I can’t say how effective it’s actually going to be,” Steger says of Uber’s PR efforts. “Just based on what I’ve seen, we have the support of the people.”

It's very unlikely that even the politicians actually believed for a second that they were doing the will of the people with this restriction. It's pure protectionism on behalf of entrenched business interests and against consumer interest. Alas, it's still politics as usual.

My October article on California's statewide regulation--not as draconian as Seattle's proposal--of e-hailing services.

[Hat tip: Paul Gambill]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sarcasmic||

    I know! I know! Let's lower unemployment and increase economic activity by capping the number of people who may do a particular job! Stimulus!

  • LynchPin1477||

    They're just getting out in front of technological unemployment. Because we all know that once we reach a critical mass of robots, all human innovation will cease.

  • SugarFree||

    Denton's techie smear site, Valleywag, and its unhinged editor Sam Biddle, have such a hard-on for destroying Uber it would be hilarious if not so stalkerish.

    Something about people not having to hail a yellow cab scares the pants off the neoLuddite commie crowd.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Who's the worst human being: Sam Biddle or Joan Walsh?

  • sloopyinca||

    You misspelled E.J. Dionne.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    EJ Dionne is old school, which I have a modicum of respect for. Denton and Walsh are shit-flinging monkeys.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Peer to peer commerce is the future. The government, despite having the heaviest boots, will never be able to stomp it out. The government realizes this. They see the end in sight. But since all they have are boots, they are going to keep stomping.

    Twenty years from now, we'll look back at this era and laugh.

  • Rhywun||

    Yes, because black humor is all we will have inside our cages.

  • sloopyinca||

    Why we don't have self-driving cars that travel 100 mph is still a mystery to me.

  • Invisible Finger||

    100mph seems pretty slow for self-driving cars.

  • sloopyinca||

    And oddly enough it seems fast for a high speed train in California.

    I was taking the government regulation factor into account. Left to the market, we'd all be zipping along at 200 mph in tubes by now.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Self-flying cars.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I had a self-driving car once. I mean, when I woke up, I was at home and the car was in my parents driveway. I remember starting the car in Indianapolis, and then I was home. So the car must have driven itself.

  • Fist of Etiquette||


  • Invisible Finger||

    “Being from here, and thinking about how open-minded and progressive this city can be,” Steger says of the proposal, “to me it’s shocking.”....

    The only thing progressives are "open" to is increased regulations.

  • Flatulent Monkey||

    This. It's only progress to a progressive if the progressi is in the direction of consolidation of control.

    Clearly this individual has not paid attention to the last hundred years of progressive history.

  • Idle Hands||

    OT:Idaho passes a bill allowing OMG GUNS!! on a college campus, derp ensues.

  • From the Tundra||

    Lyft just launched in Minneapolis. The usual suspects are trying to protect me from the scourge of choice:

    “There are liabilities there,” said Waleed Sonbol, General Manager of Blue & White Taxi, who says his cabs have to pass the same inspections as emergency vehicles. “I hope they send a message that the city of Minneapolis is here to protect who lives in the city, the rider who rides in the city, and also the drivers, who put their hard time into getting there.”

  • ||

    But how could this possibly be in a place that legalized marijuana? I thought legal pot and gay marriage was proof positive of the libertarian moment?

  • Injun Joe||

    "If there are no caps, TNC's (Transportation Network Companies - the term used for the ride-share companies) will flood market with their drivers, existing taxi drivers will not get business. TNC drivers will also not have enough drivers. Corporations will still be making money, that's all they care about."

    - Marxist Moron Extraordinaire Kshama Sawant

    Over privileged middle class brat grows up in a protected bubble in a poor socialist country, emigrates to a prosperous capitalist country, and recommends socialism for the latter.

  • Cytotoxic||

    So there's a 150 car/system cap at any moment but no cap on the number of systems? Big loophole, simple solution: MOAR systems!


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.