Uber, Lyft allowed to freely drive Seattle's streets

The city council lifts several restrictions and gives the green light to on-demand car service apps.

lyft_driver.jpg
A Lyft driver displays the service's iconic pink mustache on the grill of his car. Lyft

Ride-for-hire services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar won a battle in Seattle on Monday. The city council voted 8 to 1 to approve legislation that allows car-hailing apps to operate in the city without limits on how many cars they have out in the streets, according to GeekWire.

The tech startups had been working for approval in the city for the last 15 months and saw many ups and downs as local officials allowed them to operate and then put limits on them again. According to GeekWire, an agreement was finally reached in June that lifted several restrictions on the ride-for-hire services.

"The people of Seattle have spoken and the city has listened," Uber Seattle general manager Brooke Steger said in a statement emailed to CNET.

Lyft expressed similar enthusiasm for the city council's decision. "Seattle has long been a leader in embracing innovative technology, and today's vote to authorize ride sharing recognizes that regulations can be modernized to allow new industries to thrive while maintaining the highest level of public safety," a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNET.

The idea of using mobile apps to connect passengers with part-time drivers of private cars has surged in popularity over the past couple of years. Both Uber and Lyft have grown exponentially and expanded to cities around the US and the world. Lyft, which launched in 2012, operates in 60 US cities, while Uber's 4-year-old service has a presence in 35 countries and more than 100 cities.

But, the growth of these companies has also come with struggles. Various state regulators and taxi commissions have waged local warfare with the startups across the US and even in Europe and Australia.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania sent cease and desist orders to Uber and Lyft and Virginia did the same in June. Resistance to the companies has also heated up in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Denver, Miami, and Los Angeles. Several of these cities have now come to terms with the startups, but battles still rage in others.

Updated July 15 at 11:43 a.m. PT with comments from Uber and Lyft.

 

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