Seattle council committee votes to limit ride-sharing services

SEATTLE -- In the battle of yellow cabs versus pink mustaches, you might call this one a draw.

Few drivers appeared satisfied after a standing-room-only marathon meeting of the Taxi, For-Hire, and Limousine Regulations Committee in Seattle Thursday night.

Councilmembers drew up restrictions on so-called ride-sharing services, allowing for an unlimited number of drivers for those companies, while also limiting the number of vehicles on the road to 150 at any given time for one company.

The move is aimed at regulating ride-share companies such as UberX, Sidecar, and Lyft, which fought the measure heavily in person and on social media. In recent days, Seattle rapper Macklemore and Seahawks star Golden Tate tweeted support for the services.

"I support my family doing this. Our family is flourishing right now because I have this job," said Michael Cambern, who became an UberX driver in November after being laid off from a tech company. "I don't want to go back to where I was before, and that looks like it's a possibility with this."

Taxi drivers also expressed concern at how the regulations may leave the door open for unpredicted loopholes.

"They said, 'Okay, you know, you can have 150 cars in one company,' but right now they have Uber, and UberX," argued taxi driver Amandeep Manku. "Tomorrow they'll say this is UberY, UberZ, UberA."

An earlier proposal recommended capping the total number of drivers at 300 for the ride-sharing services. The proposal did not pass.

"No matter how great and sexy and cool these application services are, they are unlawful in the city of Seattle," Councilmember Bruce Harrell said during the committee discussion.

Additional measures passed Thursday include licensing, training, and insurance standards for ride-share drivers. The bill now heads to a full council vote, which is scheduled for March 10th.

"It's fight between and right and wrong. It's a fight between unregulated industry and regulated industry," argued taxi driver Salah Mohamed. "Level the playing field."

"This is the thing I support my family (with). I'm a guy with four kids and my kids are going to college," said UberX driver Hasan Edwan. "This is the only job I have."