Proposed Changes for Seattle/King County Taxicab & For-Hire Industries
Beginning in January 2023, two new governing ordinances will be presented to both the Seattle City Council and the King County Council. Instead of summarizing policy changes, I will provide most of the text of page two of King County's "Regulations and Notices Overview." This is important information and I encourage everyone reading this to tell your friends and colleagues to read what I am presenting. My goal here is to educate and inform. Too often I hear the complaint that nobody tells us what is going on, taking on a kind of victimization. If you tell your buddies to read this, then they cannot express any surprise. While many don't seem to realize it, this blog is for you my fellow transportation professional. Stay informed, stay empowered.
I have made ten copies of the complete overview/update. Ten lucky drivers will get one. If you do, make copies and share.
From the Direct Text:
Earlier in 2022, the (WA) state legislature passed a bill adopting new state-wide transportation network company (TNC) regulations. The bill permits the City and County to continue regulating TNCs but limits the ability of either government to update those regulations to address changes in the TNC (Uber/Lyft) industry, unless such changes align with state-wide TNC regulations.
As a result, the City and County now plan to each transmit two ordinances to the City Council and County Council no later than early 2023. The first ordinance will amend existing City and County law to effectively remove taxicab and for-hire owners, drivers, and companies from the code. leaving in place the existing regulations on TNC's. The second ordinance will establish a new chapter, in City and County codes respectively, focused on the taxicab and for-hire vehicle industries by doing the following to ease and streamline regulations:
1. Allow all medallions (City, County, and Dual) to operate throughout the region
2. Transition all for-hire vehicles to taxicabs
3. Adjust insurance requirements and adapt to a changing market and policy models
4. Eliminate outdated operating requirements and align City and County requirements
5. Establish a regional for-hire driver's license for taxicab and for-hire vehicle drivers, with an option to obtain an enhanced regional for-hire driver's license with the addition of a fingerprint-based Federal background check
6. Require adoption of smart taximeters including integration with public facing regional trip planning tools, integrated payment processing, and authorizing greater use of dynamic fare setting
7. Simplify enforcement and penalties and create a more coordinated appeals process
8. Establish a uniform vehicle age limit of 15 years, lower the minimum for driver age from 21 to 20, and adjust maximum allowable driver operating hours
9. Authorize the County to set a minimum fare for short trips, such as those from Sea-Tac Airport
10. Establish certain vehicle owner and driver protections, including provisions for advanced notice of contract changes and the opportunity to provide input on agency policies that affect drivers
11. Plan for the use of all electric vehicles (EVs) when technology and infrastructure make EVs viable for for-hire passenger transportation
Next week I will include the section including fee changes. To send any comments about all this, use this email address: FAST@kingcounty.gov
I encourage everyone to read through these eleven proposals carefully. Read for hidden meaning. These eleven items suggest a world of change is coming. Much of all this is very taxicab friendly. One change not listed here is the temporary suspension of taxi, for-hire vehicle and TNC vehicle age limit through June 30th, 2024. That's very good news if you are still driving a Crown Victoria.
Big Bob Lives!
Recently I got a pleasant surprise when Bob (the famous Big Bob) said hello after dropping off at King Street Station in his E-Cab. My friendship with Mister Big Bob dates from my earliest days as a cabbie, that is September 1987. He said "You are still doing this?" and also made mention that back then many of our fellow cabbies thought I was a spy working for the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). I was still working my psych case management gig and seemed an unlikely cab driver. Bob and I laughed but knowing Bob, he still might have doubts concerning all that, that I could really be a spy! I assure you I'm not, only another deranged cabbie like the rest of us. Ain't that reassuring?