After more than a year of study and deliberation the Everett City Council held a public hearing Wednesday night on a proposed ordinance designed to provide some regulation to Transportation Network Companies or TNCs like Lyft and Uber who use technology to match riders and drivers. The intent was to level the playing field between traditional taxi operations and the new TNCs.
At the public hearing one taxi driver spoke out against the TNCs. He’s been coming to council meetings for the past three months speaking out on how the taxi business was being undercut and destroyed by TNCs and their surge pricing. The other speakers tonight were drivers who work for companies like Uber and Lyft and opposed the provisions in the ordinance that would make drivers increase their insurance coverage similar to taxis. They also opposed following the current rules in Everett that people who are independent contractors have to have a general business license and pay B&O tax.
The city council also just today received emails from Uber and Lyft arguing against those rules and a public relations person from Uber testified that the company would not do business in any city that required it provide a driver list that could be subject to public disclosure. The City of Everett wants such a list so they can be sure they are doing a truly random selection process for any audits of TNC operations and compliance.
After the public testimony council members discussed what they heard and came to the conclusion that they needed to work out at least four more issues including…
- Whether TNC drivers who were independent contractors would need a general business license.
- The length of a review period on the current ordinance as the business model in the TNC industry is in almost constant flux.
- Whether the drivers for TNC companies should have to have the same insurance requirements as taxis.
- What form of drivers list the TNC companies should have and the process to provide that information for city audits.
Other considerations include regulations for TNC companies or divisions that operate as delivery services for food or packages but don’t carry passengers and if different rules would apply to them.
The city council voted unanimously to table the ordinance until it could be further refined and those questions addressed in front of the full council. There is no timeline for when that will be accomplished.