Thanks to Monday’s decision by the Seattle City Council, you soon may be paying nearly double for Uber and Lyft rides.
Despite a online petition from Uber, signed by over 20,000 people, the council decided at its Monday meeting to move forward with regulating rideshare rates in Seattle. Uber and Lyft could end up charging customers the same rate as taxis. The regulations would nearly double Uber’s current rates, forcing the popular rideshare app to charge customers up to $2.40 per mile.
While the Seattle City Council has tried to spin the vote as a way to help rideshare drivers earn a fair wage, Seattle Uber driver Barby Fortin told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that she — like most other Uber drivers she knows — makes about $20 per hour.
Fortin said that the move is nothing but a ploy by the council to protect the taxi drivers in the Teamsters union. It’s a quid pro quo for the union’s campaign contributions to council members. The Teamsters, she said, turned out in force at a March 27 council meeting, which she said the Uber drivers were forbidden from attending.
“We weren’t allowed to be there, and we have tried to make appointments with [Council President] Bruce [Harrell] to talk with him,” she said.
Their efforts, however, have been in vain.
The council has said that by having one standard rate for driving services, it will “level the playing field” for rideshares and taxis alike. Fortin compared this idea of bringing Uber and Lyft down to the taxis’ level to fixing a flat tire by puncturing the other three tires on the car.
“We’re all for competition,” she said. “There’s Uber, there’s Lyft, we have taxi drivers that we help … We feel bad for the taxis with all their oversight from the city. It’s an old industry, and you need to fix it.”
And while Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant told the Uber drivers that they are being taken advantage of by a wealthy corporation, Fortin said that she believes it is politicians who really stand in her way.
“I am a small business owner — the smallest of businesses — one car, one person, and an app in order to connect with riders,” Fortin said. “I choose to do it this way; I can make a great living at this, and I do not need big businesses or politicians to step in my way and make my job hard.”