Seattle mayoral candidates in ‘hot seat' over taxi issue

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


SEATTLE - Seattle's mayoral candidates were in the hot seat over what cab drivers see as unfair competition from a growing, yet unregulated "ride-share" industry.

"They know all along that these people are breaking the law,” said longtime cab driver Mohamed Salah.

Salah and his fellow cab drivers believe Seattle already has the power to regulate the car-for-hire programs like Lyft and Uber that are popping up all over the city -- and striking at the cabbies' bottom lines.

"I have full coverage insurance that I pay $612 a month," said Salah.  "But these people, they have personal insurance."

Moreover, he argues, passengers are at risk.

"There's no safety check for that car," he said.

So they wanted Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and his challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, on the record with how they plan to solve this vexing issue.

McGinn agrees the problem needs a solution.

"Some level of insurance, some level of safety inspections, some level of licensing is going to have to exist for these," he told the cab drivers. "And ultimately this in the hands of the City Council."

But Murray held up the 44 pages of regulations for taxis and said he would impose a moratorium now.

"Because it is only fair," he said, to applause. "It is only fair that again we have a playing field that is a level playing field."

Murray's promise was likely music to the ears of longtime cabbie Ismail Salah.

"Whoever's going to get my vote, should do more," said Salah.  "Should be able to solve this problem."

The candidates came to Tukwila because it is near Sea-Tac Airport and convenient for the cab drivers.   Now the drivers say they want the same consideration regarding this issue or they will sue.