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]