As we confirmed this morning, Mayor Ed Murray announced at a press conference this afternoon that he plans to propose legislation to city council that would eliminate a cap on ridesharing companies, also known as Transportation Network Companies or TNCs, by repealing an existing council ordinance; his proposal would also suspend a referendum filed by companies like Uber and Lyft.
The Murray proposal, a compromise agreed to by taxi companies, ridesharing companies, and for-hire firms, has something for everyone. The taxi companies get 200 new licenses and taxi license owners get the right to own their licenses, the way New York City drivers own their "medallions." The for-hire drivers, who operate two-color vehicles that aren't subject to taxi license restrictions, will win the right to pick up people who hail them on the street, as opposed to only being allowed to respond to calls. And the ridesharing companies won't be restricted, as they would be under the current ordinance, to 150 drivers per company.
"I believe Seattle once again will lead the nation in showing how apparently conflicting interests can come together," Murray said. "Technology exists that is rapidly changing the marketplace [to] offer people an opportunity not to own a car, or to own only one car, or to drive less."
Murray added that "it's going to be a heavy lift" to get the legislation through the council, although—as we reported this morning—the consensus of the taxi, for-hire, and ridesharing industries suggests that there could be an "end to the deadlock between those warring drivers."
In a statement, Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said, "We appreciate Mayor Murray's desire to find a solution that prioritizes public safety without stifling innovation, and we will continue to work collaboratively to improve transportation access, safety and affordability for Seattle residents."