It appears that the Uber, Lyft and Sidecar sponsored City of Seattle voter referendum effort will successfully temporarily block the implementation of Seattle City Council's bill regulating their operations plus adding other unwanted, egregious elements to Seattle's transportation business sector. Two possible events could forestall the referendum but come this Thursday I am confident we will all be looking forward to the August vote.
Mayor Murray last week expressed hope that negotiation with Uber would generate a compromise. The City of Seattle is also exploring whether the referendum process can legally address what might be solely an administrative decision. I am personally looking forward to an over 4 1/2 month window allowing all of us in the local taxi industry to further address obvious problems inherent with the current bill. I am hoping finally a real dialogue with the City will ensue, allowing much needed input. It is about time major taxi industry stakeholders are invited to the discussion. One way or the other, sooner or later, our voice will be heard. The current bill is a bureaucratic moth-eaten cloth, certainly not protecting us from the operational cold. It will not suffice.
The question of genuine of TNC caps persists. Currently, new, unlimited TNC companies composed of 150 cars each are allowed. While much is focused upon the current 450 combined driver or car limit, it is only a mirage. A mere $50,000 dollar filing fee gets you started. Both Uber and Lyft have contributed $400,000 dollars each toward the referendum effort. Doing the simple math, their combined $800,000 can be divided into 16 separate filing fees times 150 cars equaling a total of 1800 new cars on top of the 450 now allowed. If anyone thinks this kind of scenario is pure fantasy you should reconsider. The TNCs are backed by at least two billionaires. They can and will do anything they want unless restrictions are imposed. That is reality and nothing disputes that. Uber and company are playing "hardball." It is no joke.
A glaring example of that attitude was displayed in its full guttural glory when two hundred current and former Uber drivers held a news conference and rally yesterday sponsored in part by Teamsters Local 117. Unwarranted dismissal and intimidation was the order of the day. The message delivered by the drivers was clear. If you are not totally obedient and compliant, Uber will kick your ass. Why it even makes our current taxi association system look good or least putting it into some better perspective. Who ever thought that could happen?
Regardless of the past year's City Council hearings and everything else, I see the overall conversation just beginning. Too many questions have been left unanswered. From how I see it, on a scale of ten, we have reached more or less number three toward a final resolution. We might be years away.
What I must reiterate remains true. Whatever time we have between now and August must be used wisely. If we are to have a fair and final solution, these next four months will prove to be foundational. There is much work to be done. The lazy and indifferent will be left far behind and sidelined. Excuses and self-justification will be just that, pointless utterances registered to the thin air. Yelling achieves nothing. It is time for all us to become instant lobbyists working effectively for our cause. That is our option and no other. Otherwise we will be out maneuvered. Our opponents are relying upon our past history. We must prove them wrong!