Ridesharing Services Could Soon be Regulated in Washington

Feb 03, 2015 07:03 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

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Washington lawmakers are considering legislation to regulate smartphone-enabled car services like Lyft and Uber. This could possibly override rules imposed last year in Seattle on how to manage companies that compete with traditional taxis, according to Reuters.

The proposed legislation, which was taken up by the state Senate's transportation committee, would regulate rules for ridesharing companies operating in other cities in the state, like Tacoma and Spokane.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced new guidelines in July to remove a cap on the number of drivers for transportation network companies while also awarding new taxi medallions in an attempt to please competing interests looking for fares in Washington.

The law would ensure a "driver's compliance with insurance, qualification, conduct, nondiscrimination, maximum work hours, criminal history, and driving record requirements," the bill says, according to Reuters.

The legislation would require that insurance policies are valid from when the driver is logged on to the system, and not just when the rider is in the vehicle. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft would be required to submit reports every quarter on driving records and coverage.

Seattle officials were worried that the state measure would derail a hard-fought compromise in the city of around 630,000 people.

"The city has expressed to the bill's sponsor that as the process unfolds it will be critical that the protections we have in place are not diminished," said Denise Movius of Seattle's Finance and Administrative Services told the Seattle Times newspaper.

Uber said this week that it is looking forward to working with leaders across Washington state in order "to create a permanent home for ridesharing services like Uber in the Evergreen State," said spokesman Michael Amodeo, according to Reuters.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in September to require ridesharing companies' insurance to cover drivers from the second they turn on their app, not just from when they accept a ride. 

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