UberX and Lyft have become embroiled in pitched battles in cities and states across the country as they have spread in defiance of regulators and challenged long-protected taxis by enabling regular citizens to drive for hire in their own vehicles.
This week in Seattle, however, Lyft and UberX-owner Uber Technologies reached a compromise with the mayor, taxis and other interests that would legalize their smartphone-powered operations while eliminating the 150-vehicle limits that city officials put on them in March.
The deal hinged largely on insurance requirements, and it still must be approved by the city council, but it could mark the latest in a series of legislative victories for Uber and Lyft, coming close on the heels of compromises that produced laws in the state of Colorado and the city of Chicago.
Will the trend sweep the rest of the country, where some jurisdictions have ordered UberX and Lyft to stop operating immediately in the vacuum of rules?
What about in California, where regulators and some state legislators, backed by insurers and trial lawyers, are calling for far more insurance coverage than what Chicago, Seattle and Colorado required? In Illinois, legislators have approved legislation that Uber and and Lyft have opposed, and it is awaiting the governors signature.
Seattle’s compromise came only after Lyft and Uber — saying caps on drivers devastate their operations — spent a combined $400,000 to collect tens of thousands of signatures to qualify a ballot referendum. The city’s law was then blocked pending an election