SEATTLE – Seattle City Council held a meeting Tuesday night to better understand the demand for taxis and taxi-like services within the city.
A study found the market for taxi services has evolved in the last 12-18 months. The number of For Hire Vehicle licenses roughly doubled between 2010 and 2012. The number of limousines has increased dramatically from 600 in 2011 to 1,100 today. The rideshare market is growing rapidly too. However, in 2012 the number of taxi trips remained consistent at about 20 trips per day.
"Customers express a preference for service quality provided by services other than taxis," according to the study which surveyed Seattle residents, businesses, and visitors.
Amy White decided to call on the UBER car service to catch a ride in Capitol Hill Tuesday because she felt it was more convenient.
"Honestly, on my way here this evening Yellow Cab could not promise me they would show up within a half an hour time slot, and UBER told me they would be there within seven minutes," said White.
Taxi driver Abadir Abdala said the taxi-like services are taking a toll on his business.
"It is not level ground," said Abdala.
He said he pays fees and follows strict regulations while taxi alternatives, like rideshare services, don't have to follow those rules.
Denise Movius, the Deputy Director of Seattle's Finance and Administrative Services, said the city is examining that issue. Particularly, services like Lyft, UBERx, and Sidecar are considered illegal in the city's view. The rideshare services are not regulated by the city.
"Do we regulate them the same way, and if we don't we better have a good reason for not holding them to the same level of scrutiny and inspection," said Movius.
The city is using the new study as it analyzes the issue and the future of Seattle's taxi industry.