Mayor signs Council legislation as a ‘necessary first step’ in legalizing TNCs in Seattle, will pursue a more long-term comprehensive solution

Mayor Murray released the following statement regarding his signing of legislation passed unanimously by City Council regulating ridesharing services in the city:

On Monday, the City Council unanimously approved legislation regulating transportation network companies (TNCs) such as UberX and Lyft.

Today, I signed that legislation. Given the interest this issue has generated, I would like to explain my reasons for doing so.

First of all, it’s important to note the Legislation sent to me by Council is a necessary first step but by no means a complete and final step in addressing this important issue.

Secondly, I would point out that, under ordinary circumstances, the Mayor’s Office would have the opportunity to make its own policy recommendations to the City Council on major issues like this. But while the Council has been debating the issue of TNC regulations for almost a year, I’ve only been in the Mayor’s Office since January. So I’ve entered into a debate that was already well underway before I got here, and one which had already passed the point where the Mayor’s Office could present its own proposal.

Thirdly, I want to acknowledge the urgency of this particular debate. TNCs have been operating in this city without a legal regulatory framework that both ensures public safety and promotes fair competition with other established industries – industries, I might add, that have made significant investments within the existing regulatory framework. The Council felt acutely – and appropriately – the need to act quickly. And their legislation does make important progress by bringing TNCs into a governing legal framework, and by mandating safety inspections for vehicles and insurance requirements that make everybody safer.

However I do not view the Council’s proposal as either a complete or a long-term solution. As I stated on Monday, I still believe that capping the number TNCs is not workable over time, and that the specific number set by Council is unreasonably low. I still believe that the existing regulatory framework as applies to taxis is unfair and in need of reform. And while the Council’s proposal makes important progress by mandating insurance for TNCs at parity with taxis and slightly easing the existing mandates for taxis, I believe that these mandates are still overly burdensome.

But, in politics, as in life generally, the perfect can often be the enemy of the good. While the Council’s proposal is far from perfect, it does make necessary progress on an issue that we cannot afford to ignore and which is too urgent to start all over on. There is still more progress we can and must make on this issue.

I plan to immediately begin working with stakeholders and Council to build on their diligent efforts of the past year and arrive at a more long-term, comprehensive solution.