In this 2014 photo, a Lyft driver stops in downtown Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Lyft to ‘pause’ service in Everett over new regulations

EVERETT — Ride-sharing service Lyft has announced that it is suspending service in Everett after new rules adopted this summer by the Everett City Council.

Lyft says the City Council has approved rules that require drivers to obtain a business license and undergo background checks. The company says the background checks duplicate what already is required for many drivers who also serve in Seattle.

Lyft says it “made the difficult decision to pause local pickups until the situation is resolved.”

“We know this will affect you and the income you rely on,” the company wrote in an email to drivers. “We’ll continue fighting for Lyft in Everett, and we appreciate everything you’ve done to make this community a success.”

The city requires other independent contractors to obtain business licenses, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. So the requirement is not new as part of the for-hire ordinance.

“We know that our community values Lyft’s services and we worked hard to develop and implement regulations in a way that would not be onerous for drivers and the company, while still maintaining a strong focus on safety,” Pembroke wrote.

Lyft had expressed concerns that the background check requirement was too vague. The city changed it to require that the company check publicly available national and state sex-offender databases. Lyft communicated to the city last week that that had resolved the company’s concerns, Pembroke wrote.

“We are not sure what Lyft is referring to when it references ‘duplicative’ checks,” she wrote.

City staff have worked with Lyft to alleviate other company concerns. For instance, the city will take a vehicle inspection report from King County. Still, Lyft felt the city’s vehicle checklist was more expansive than other cities, Pembroke wrote.

The city also agreed to give notice both to drivers and to ride-sharing companies if it revokes a business license from a driver. That means the companies would be given notice if a driver is no longer allowed to drive in the city of Everett.

Uber sent out a statement in response to Lyft’s decision. The ride-sharing competitor to Lyft said it, too, has deep concerns about the ability to continue to operate under new ride-share and taxi regulations passed by the Everett City Council.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and hope to — at the very least — continue to provide safe rides through the holiday weekend while working toward a solution that avoids the unintended consequences of these new regulations,” the statement read.

Jim Davis: 425-339-3097; jdavis@heraldnet.com; @HBJnews.

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