Time to Start Locking Up Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar Drivers

Lyft Car on the road

Source: Lyft

Now that Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have submitted enough signatures to force a referendum on Seattle’s recently revised taxi, limousine, and for-hire ordinance, it is time to start throwing their drivers in jail.

It is a criminal violation in the city of Seattle to pick up paying passengers without a valid for-hire license, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. No doubt the recently passed ordinance didn’t give the “Transportation Network Companies” (TNCs) everything they wanted, but it did legitimize their businesses, giving them a path toward legal operations. But by submitting sufficient signatures to force a referendum, the TNCs have effectively suspended the new ordinance, leaving the old law on the books. So, you know, enforce it!

Seriously. This is a political power play that is about more than just caps. The question here is who gets to write Seattle’s laws? The popularly elected city council after a year of public hearings and excruciating deliberations? Or the venture capitalists behind a handful of clever iPhone apps?

The TNCs think they have the upper hand. But in addition to suspending all caps, insurance, inspection, training and other regulations on their vehicles and drivers (along with all taxes and fees!), the TNCs have also suspended their right to operate legally. So if they hate the new law so much, let’s see how they like the old one.

A sting operation would be easy. Book a ride, and when the driver shows up, issue a citation and impound the car. Because it’s the law. It’ll only take a few high profile arrests to convince most drivers to log off the system. And then maybe the TNCs will be moved to negotiate a new ordinance instead of attempting to impose one.

Comments

  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    B-b-but this is government interference with free enterprise and private property rights! I should be able to do whatever I want with my car, van, bus, or limo! P.S., If you’re curious what libertarian ferry regulation looks like …

  2. 2

    AJ spews:

    Uber amuses me because of what it does to urban Dems. They’ll rail against money in politics, the Koch brothers, VC money ruining neighborhoods and so on but then cheer that TNCs hurled several hundred thousand dollars at the ballot to get the ordinance referred. And they’ll go off on Scott Walker and anti-union activities but then play skeptic over Uber drivers wanting to organize.

    I will say this, though: I can be bought. If Uber is willing to put 50 cents to $1 per ride into the city’s transpo coffers I’d happily be all “well, let’s see how we can work with this”. But they won’t because that’s not how TechLibs function (I mean, hell, they’re not opposing just caps but all for-hire regs).

  3. 3

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    Or the venture capitalists behind a handful of clever iPhone apps?

    Who are they and how do they think politically? It would be hilarious if these are DUMMOCRETIN VC peeps subverting the city council.

    Puddy surprised Goldy hasn’t investigated who these VC peeps are… or maybe Goldy has and that’s why the sentence above?

    AJ’s first paragraph cracked Puddy up. It’s so true about DUMMOCRETINS!

    Well?

  4. 4

    some guy spews:

    It isn’t just some venture capitalists, these services are wildly popular. They got 36,000 signatures supporting this in a matter of weeks.

    I don’t get why you’re suddenly so outraged over a a stupid law being broken.

  5. 5

    stewart resmer spews:

    What an absolutely brilliant conclusion Goldy!

    Put laws on the books and actually enforce them?

    What a concept!!!

  6. 6

    headless lucy spews:

    Who’s liable when one of Uber’s drivers gets into an at-fault accident or commits a crime upon a fare-paying passenger?

  7. 8

    headless lucy spews:

    re 7: Yeah, sure — the lawyers’ll go after Mr. Deeppockets, the Driver. If the Uber people are directing the Drivers’ activities (which they are), I think that you have made an incorrect assessment of liability. In addition, the Company is rating Drivers — in effect hiring and firing.

    The world doesn’t operate according to libertarian dogma.

    You are such a naif.

  8. 10

    Dr. Hilarius spews:

    @9 is correct. Every standard auto liability policy restricts coverage to non-commercial use. There may be some grey areas but acting as a common-carrier vehicle for hire isn’t one of them. A passenger or third party injured by an Uber driver will find themselves without insurance coverage. They can, of course, go after the Uber driver in his/her individual capacity but I suspect those pockets to be pretty shallow.

  9. 11

    some guy spews:

    The company insurance policy covers everything while the driver is working. It’s only $1m though.

    As for the driver attacking a customer I would assume it would be the same as any other company having an employee attack a customer.

  10. 12

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    Uber’s web site states…

    In order to drive with Uber, you must have your own car with proper insurance. You also must have a valid driver’s license and pass a DMV and background check.

    So what is proper insurance? Puddy would think Uber drivers would check otherwise they be stupid!

  11. 13

    headless lucy spews:

    re 11: “As for the driver attacking a customer I would assume it would be the same as any other company having an employee attack a customer.”

    I don’t know Uber’s policy for background checks on prospective drivers, but I would assume that no checking or a pro-forma BS check would not cut the mustard with a hungry ambulance chaser.

  12. 14

    headless lucy spews:

    re 12: “So what is proper insurance? Puddy would think Uber drivers would check otherwise they be stupid!”

    Are you really this illiterate?

  13. 16

    czechsaaz spews:

    It’s actually easier than setting up a sting. File a suit in civil court (which the taxis have done) subpoena a record of all payments processed and the pick up address of each payment. Issue citations for $1000 for every ride originating in city limits.

    The ride share now has a choice, settle agreeing to terms that are whatever the fuck the city wants as far as insurance and vehicle maintenance are concerned, spend an eternity in court during which time a cease and desist for ALL operations would be easy to obtain or option three, pay a fine in the multiple millions of dollars.

  14. 17

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    @14,

    Puddy realizes it’s above your pay grade!

    Stay stupid and racist! Two things you perfected here on HA DUMMOCRETINS!

  15. 19

    Puddybud - The One The Only spews:

    @19,

    SO? Reminding headless of its commentary since September 2005

  16. 20

    tensor spews:

    “Uber amuses me because of what it does to urban Dems. They’ll rail against money in politics, the Koch brothers, VC money ruining neighborhoods and so on but then cheer that TNCs hurled several hundred thousand dollars at the ballot to get the ordinance referred. ”

    Who here is cheering? We now have a situation which has many potential problems, and because it’s immediately popular and profitable, we have yet more money thrown into our politics when calm and reasoned discourse is what we really need.

  17. 22

    headless lucy spews:

    “Stay stupid and racist!” Take care fellow commentators. Pointing out Puddy’s grammatical errors is racist! Don’t worry Pud. I’m tuning my violin as we speak.

  18. 23

    headless lucy spews:

    In addition, Pud, I didn’t hear anything from you about Rush Limbaugh mocking Michael J. Fox.

    Rush is DISEASIST. I’m sure Michael J. just shook it off (heh). Why don’t you?

  19. 24

    Frank spews:

    “The company insurance policy covers everything while the driver is working. It’s only $1m though.”

    Not like those whopping $50,000 personal insurance policies, or the $300,000 coverage for other commercial vehicles including taxis (assuming they don’t “self-insure”). I mean a million dollar policy is SO SMALL by comparison!

  20. 27

    Better spews:

    Are you close personal freinds with the uber driver? No?? Did you use the uber service to schedule your freind? Did you pay more than the cost of the gas like wages? Then yes.