City Council takes step toward studying a base fare for Uber and Lyft

VIDEO: Rideshare fees

SEATTLE — A move to give Uber and Lyft drivers a better wage could lead to higher costs for people grabbing a ride in Seattle.

On Tuesday, a city council committee took a step toward becoming the first city to set a minimum base fare.

The resolution calls for studying a base fare of $2.40, which was Uber's base rate in 2014.

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As the company expanded, it dropped to $1.35.

Driver Fasil Teeka supports raising the base fare, saying he works 12- or 15-hour days, seven days a week for a living wage.

"We make money, but we don't have savings, it just pays our bills," Teeka said. "Our cost of living, the rent, the gas price, everything else goes up, but the wage we are making has been the same."

Caleb Weaver of Uber said that "because of the low rates, we are able to provide a service that everybody can afford."

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Drivers who support keeping the lower rate say they're making good money now.

"Last week alone, I made $900 and worked less than 30 hours. That's way more than minimum wage," said driver Michael Wolfe.

They fear higher rates will scare away customers, bring more drivers in to compete, and lower their pay.

City Council President Bruce Harrell is leading the push to study a higher rate.

"This affects people's ability to put food on the table, to clothe their children," Harrell said.

Harrell said the companies have been misleading customers about what a higher rate would mean for the cost of rides.

"They do not have to pass that on to the consumer," Harrell said.

Caleb Weaver of Uber responded, "We have no idea how this would work or what he's talking about."

The resolution talks about creating a fair environment for all ride providers, and critics say it is a move toward propping up the taxi business.

Harrell is also calling for the companies to provide wage and hour data.

He said he hopes for some proposed legislation in a few weeks.