As an average person who hails the odd taxi now and then in Seattle, you may not be aware of the trouble that has been brewing over recent months (if not, years). It seems the difference between taxicab firms and for-hire drivers in Seattle is not only confusing to many customers, especially those who are not from Seattle but you could be spending more money than you should. This is where the argument lies with taxicabs (or so it would seem).
There are certain rules and regulations that both for hire drivers and taxi drivers must follow but, the biggest complaint is that for-hire drivers are flaunting these rules. As with everything, there are two sides to every story so, let’s start by outlining some of the rules that need to be adhered to and how these are being flaunted.
· Taxicab drivers have meters which mean they charge a specific amount per mile for the journey you take with them.
· People who drive these cabs must have a background check done to ensure they’re legally allowed to drive and are safe to do so.
· Every driver must hold a license to drive a cab.
· If you need to flag a taxi, it should only stop if the driver is licensed by Seattle City Council to do so.
· Taxicab companies must have a uniformed color scheme for all vehicles.
· Of course, a license is required.
· For-hire drivers are not metered and can, therefore, charge pretty much what they like.
· Background checks are not always done on for-hire drivers.
· It’s against the rules for a taxi service like this to accept custom when been flagged down in the street.
· For-hire drivers are not allowed to use the words “taxi” or “cab” anywhere on their vehicles.
· The same applies to color schemes; these shouldn’t really mirror the scheme a legal taxi company has.
The main problem for drivers who are licensed to drive taxicabs or work for a legal taxi company is the way in which for-hire drivers are conducting their daily business. The biggest issue is the price. Some for-hire drivers are charging prices that cannot be competed with, add to this the fact they flaunt the rules by routinely picking up customers that flag them in the street and you soon start to
understand why tempers are rising. There are also issues with color schemes which can leave a potential customer feeling confused over what type of service they are indeed using.
The question to this article is should legal taxi companies and taxi drivers be allowed to sue Seattle City Council for allowing this type of thing to go on? The answer isn’t an easy one. From a customer’s point of view all you want is to be able to get from A-B safely and at a reasonable price.
However, you have to think about the fact that you may be using an illegal service (unlike for-hire drivers) and you may not be insured if there is an accident. This just adds to the whole mix and could actually become a problem for the average person should it be allowed to continue.
From a taxi driver’s point of view, they are losing business to other drivers that are picking up work using methods that are against the Seattle City Council’s rules. They are also up against problems where for-hire drivers are breaking rules in terms of color schemes and certain forms of advertising that can be confusing to a customer.
From the for-hire drivers point of view they say they are paying the same level of fees to operate their business and competition is such that they have to resort to going against the rules. Of course, they also have to contend with people that are driving unlicensed cabs. A lot of comments have been made about how difficult it is to make a living if you can’t stop when flagged and you’re not allowed to pick up business just by driving around the streets.
So, should taxi drivers and companies be allowed to sue? The answer is probably yes, they should. After all, rules are there for a reason and if they’re ignored the problem will only get worse. However, there could be a long road ahead as Seattle City Council is bound to react at some point with a plan on how they can stop this debate from becoming any more serious on the streets and to avoid a legal battle.