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Seattle begins on a path to regulate rideshare rates

Update to Seattle’s resolution on Uber, Lyft rates:

The Seattle City Council passed a resolution Monday that will put the city on a path to higher rideshare rates.

“What we are trying to do is ensure a level playing field; equal market access for all industry participants,” Councilmember Bruce Harrell said, arguing that the council is not raising the price that consumers will ultimately have to pay.

Rather, the council will consider regulating the standard per-mile rate that rideshares use. Opponents argue that any increase will not benefit riders, and trickle down into consumers’ pockets. Some drivers who spoke during public testimony accused the Teamsters of controlling the council.

“Some people say the Teamsters brought this resolution,” Harrell said. “There’s nothing farther from the truth. The Teamsters did not bring this resolution. It was actually drafted by central staff, here, working collectively with all industry participants – representatives, yes, of labor groups, drivers, and riders.”

City staff will now begin drafting legislation that will regulate rideshare rates in Seattle. Harrell noted that it is an attempt to equal the playing field between taxis and rideshare companies.

“It’s not a matter of flattening all tires,” Harrell said. “It’s a question of looking at our core values in an industry that continues to evolve.”

Uber drivers protest

The council’s move comes amid rising opposition from the rideshare industry, including its drivers.

“The council ignored the testimony of dozens of drivers and riders and more than 20,000 people who signed a petition to keep rideshare affordable,” Uber’s General Manager for the Pacific Northwest Alejandro Chouza said. “Today’s vote was another step toward nearly doubling the per mile rate for rideshare and making Seattle an even more expensive place to live, all apparently at the request of the Teamsters and to protect market share for taxi.”

Chouza said that more than 15,000 people use Uber to make money in Seattle. That does not include Lyft drivers. He also notes that more than 800,000 people rely on the service to get around the city.

“Both those numbers continue to grow,” he said. “We look forward to working with the city in the coming months to help ensure the city council has the information needed to make fact-based policies that help solve real problems and keep Seattle moving forward.”

Original article from KIRO 7:

The Seattle City Council will vote Monday on a proposal that could lead to higher costs for people getting rides from Uber or Lyft.

RELATED: ‘Every industry needs a little bit of regulation’

At 2 p.m., the council will hear a resolution proposal to study a base rate fare of $2.40 — up from the current base rate fare of $1.35.

Supporters say it will will help drivers make a better wage in an increasingly expensive city that already has a $15 minimum wage for most other workers.

Driver Fasil Teeka supports raising the base fare, saying he works 12- or 15-hour days, seven days a week for a living wage.

“We make money, but we don’t have savings, it just pays our bills,” Teeka said. “Our cost of living, the rent, the gas price, everything else goes up, but the wage we are making has been the same.”

Uber and other critics are fighting the idea saying high fares will drive away customers and is a political move to support the taxi cab industry.

“Because of the low rates, we were able to provide a service that everyone can afford,” said Caleb Weaver with Uber.

Drivers who support keeping the lower rate say they’re making good money now.

“Last week alone, I made $900 and worked less than 30 hours. That’s way more than minimum wage,” said driver Michael Wolfe.

City Council President Bruce Harrell said he wants to see the wage and hour data and that Uber is misleading the discussion because they don’t have to pass on the potential $2.40 base charge to passengers.

If this proposal passes Monday, it will direct the City Council to work on the actual legislation itself.

If this eventually passes the Seattle City Council, Seattle would be the first place to require a base fare for rides.

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