App-based rideshares, taxis await Seattle vote

March 17, 2014 • Business

In this photo taken Friday, March 14, 2014, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passersby offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle. In a fight pitting upstart technology and traditional business, app-based car share companies and traditional taxis are fighting for supremacy in Seattle. The taxi industry say companies like Uber and Lyft undercut their businesses because they are not regulated. Uber and Lyft say they provide services and convenience that taxis sorely lack. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — In a fight pitting upstart technology and traditional business, app-based ridesharing firms and taxi companies are dueling for supremacy in the Seattle market.

But the next round will be shaped in part by the City Council, which is set to vote on ridesharing regulations Monday, and neither side is happy with the pending decision.

At the heart of the debate are politicians attempting to regulate fast-evolving companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which use apps to connect passengers with rides from drivers using their personal cars instead of traditional taxis. With the touch of a few buttons, people can have a ride within minutes, a system many users say is more reliable than hailing a cab on the street or calling taxi company operators. Payment is done through the app.

But because these companies are so new, regulations haven’t caught up with the business model. In Seattle, the startups are outright illegal because they are not licensed. Taxi companies see that as an unfair advantage.

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