LYFT Suspends Ride-Share Service In Everett

August 31, 2017

Everett, Everett Government

ride share

The new rules went into effect in July but the ride-share battle continues.

Today LYFT announced it was suspending ride-share service in the city limits of Everett. Here is a note sent to LYFT drivers today by Scott Coriell from the LYFT communications department.

Hi all, I wanted to let you know that effective today, 8/31, Lyft has paused pick-ups in Everett. This stems from concerns over rules proposed by the city, which would require Lyft drivers to get an additional business license and separate vehicle inspection to pickup riders in Everett. That’s on top of three licenses and an inspection they have to get in King County. Drivers who don’t meet these new requirements could face penalties in Everett, which include fines of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.

Out of an abundance of caution and to protect drivers from fines and potential jail time, we have paused pick ups in Everett until we can conclude negotiations with city council. We apologize for the inconvenience and are very hopeful that we’ll be able to reach common ground soon. Service will continue as normal in Seattle and passengers can still be dropped off in Everett.

Attached is a letter sent to city leaders in mid August outlining concerns with the rules.

Lyft Letter to Everett 8.17.17 asked the City of Everett for their response which was provided by Meghan Pembroke…

We are aware that Lyft has issued an alert that it has paused services in Everett. Lyft cites the regulations requiring drivers to obtain a business license and a separate vehicle inspection as the basis for pausing services in Everett. The City’s recently passed for-hire ordinance references the City’s long-standing tax code requirement that independent contractors (which would include Lyft drivers) obtain a general business license.  This requirement is not new to the for-hire ordinance, but a driver must comply with the already existing City tax code requirement to also be in compliance with the for-hire ordinance.  The for-hire ordinance does not expressly require a separate vehicle inspection.

We know that our community values Lyft’s services and we worked hard to develop and implement regulations in a way that would not be onerous for drivers and the company, while still maintaining a strong focus on safety. The for-hire ordinance was approved by City Council in June, and the City has continued communicating with Lyft regarding their concerns since the ordinance passed. We believe we have addressed most of the company’s concerns in a Clerk’s Rule (attached). The City Clerk is authorized to create rules and regulations not inconsistent with the City’s for-hire ordinance to further clarify and implement the ordinance.

The City issued a Clerk’s Rule indicating that a vehicle passing the King County vehicle inspection program was sufficient proof of the vehicle’s compliance with the City’s inspection requirements.  The City’s ordinance does not required a separate vehicle inspection outright, but Lyft felt that the City’s vehicle checklist was more expansive than many other jurisdictions and might cause the vehicle to need an Everett-specific inspection.  Lyft cited King County as a vehicle inspection program it was comfortable with.  The City compared the King County vehicle inspection checklist with its own and found them to be comparable.  The Clerk’s Rule notes that the vehicle must also have any outstanding recall corrected if the recall creates a life-safety hazard.

As stated, the requirement that independent contractor drivers must obtain a general City business license pursuant to chapter 3.19 EMC is a requirement that existed long before the for-hire ordinance; this is not a new requirement created through the for-hire ordinance. The for-hire ordinance merely says that an independent driver must be in compliance with the existing tax code requirement to also be in compliance with the for-hire ordinance.

The Clerk’s Rule also addresses the company’s concerns that they might not be aware if the City revoked a driver’s business license and would find itself out of compliance with the for-hire ordinance if it authorized a driver without a current business license to drive in Everett.  To alleviate this concern, the Clerk’s Rule requires the City to give concurrent notice of a general business revocation to a driver and any company the driver associates with.

At this time, City staff does not have any additional regulations or proposed amendments in the works. also reached out to Uber for their reaction to the situation and received the following statement from Brooke Steger, Uber General Manager for the Pacific Northwest…

“We have deep concerns about our ability to continue operating under the new rideshare and taxi regulations passed earlier this year. It’s our understanding that members of the City Council are in discussions about cleaning up the current regulations. We therefore remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached soon, as we don’t believe the Council intended to force rideshare out of Everett.

Drivers who meet all of the extensive requirements set by King County and the City of Seattle have been using the Uber app to provide safe and reliable transportation to Everett residents and visitors for years. We are committed to supporting drivers and riders throughout the area, many of whom have come to rely on rideshare services like Uber to help meet their income and transportation needs.

We are monitoring the situation closely and hope to – at the very least – continue to provide safe rides through the holiday weekend while working toward a solution that avoids the unintended consequences of these new regulations.”

–Brooke Steger, Uber General Manager for the Pacific Northwest has followed the ride-share issue in Everett over the last couple of years. Here’s our article after the City passed the ordinance in June of this year.

With regard to the City of Everett licensing issue we asked Meghan Pembroke a couple of follow-up questions and here is her response…

Did the company Lyft ever get a corporate business license to do business in Everett? Yes, they have been issued a general business license and were issued a For-Hire Company license, which they subsequently withdrew.

How many Lyft drivers have been issued business licenses? 10 Lyft drivers have received general business licenses

Has Uber ever applied for and received a COE business license? Uber has not applied for either a general business license, or a For-Hire Company license

How many Uber drivers have been issued business licenses? 7 Uber drivers have been issued general business licenses.

Beyond our follow up questions City of Everett’s Meghan Pembroke this afternoon added the following message…

Hi Lee – After reviewing Uber’s statement of concerns, we wanted to provide some additional clarification. Please let me know if you need more information.

Inspections – we asked that the ordinance not require drivers to get a second inspection by adding language clarifying that the inspection requirement will be satisfied, without condition, by a valid Seattle / King County inspection. Everett’s inspection requirements are different from those that exist in other jurisdictions throughout Washington state, including in Seattle, creating an unnecessary and substantial administrative burden for both the TNCs and their driver-partners.

· As the Clerk’s Rule outlines, vehicles that pass the King County vehicle inspection program meet the City’s inspection requirements as described in the for-hire ordinance; a separate City of Everett inspection is not required for vehicles that have passed the King County inspection. The City does require that vehicles have any outstanding recalls corrected if the recall creates a life-safety hazard.

Investigations – we asked for language clarifying the role of TNCs during the investigation of certain complaints to make it clear that TNCs not be required to act in a law enforcement capacity. This language was not added. The Everett ordinance is unique in the state of Washington in this regard.

· The language in the for-hire ordinance reflects Uber’s current zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol. The ordinance requires TNCs to have a policy and to investigate allegations of violations of the policy in a reasonable manner. The ordinance references the “collection and analysis of evidence,” which does not mean legal evidence that would be used in a prosecution, but refers to information that the company could collect in order to determine whether their policy had been violated (such as statements from the passenger and driver) The ordinance in no way requires companies to act in a law enforcement capacity or to enforce laws that prohibit driving under the influence.

Business license verification/attestation – we requested that language be added to the city’s ordinance to clarify that TNCs can inform their driver-partners of the requirement to obtain a business license, but cannot attest to this fact on behalf of the partners because TNC partners are independent contractors. This language was not added. This creates additional unnecessary administrative burden, not required by King County or Seattle, that goes outside the scope of what a TNC can enforce.

· Similar to other communities like Bellingham and Vancouver, Everett’s ordinance requires companies to affirm their drivers are compliant with all requirements of the ordinance, based on a review of documented evidence collected by the company. We do not believe that confirming a driver has a business license adds an unnecessary burden to this process.

At least one citizen who was not able to get a ride on Lyft today said he will be addressing the Everett City Council on Wednesday to urge some type of resolution.

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My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

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