Transportation Network Companies

The City of Seattle passed an ordinance in 2014 regulating transportation network companies (TNCs). Key provisions of the ordinance that apply to TNCs are:

  • Companies must have a valid TNC license.
  • Vehicles must meet insurance standards.
  • Companies must maintain a lost-and-found system.
  • TNCs must keep and maintain records for two years.

TNCs must have a valid Seattle business license. In addition, TNCs must hold a valid TNC license.

TNCs must pay a fee of 14 cents per ride, submitted quarterly, for all trips originating in Seattle. This fee will cover the costs of enforcement and regulation of TNC licensing, vehicle endorsements and driver licensing.

TNCs must pay 10 cents per ride for the Wheelchair Accessible Services Fund.

Transportation Network Companies must meet certain operating responsibilities. TNCs must:

  • Maintain an office that is open and staffed from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on all business days.
  • Maintain a mailing address and toll-free business and customer complaint telephone numbers that are answered during hours of operation.
  • Provides a system by which passengers can retrieve lost items.
  • Maintain all required records for two years and make quarterly reports to the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
  • Require its drivers’ vehicles to be insured
  • Require its drivers to meet the vehicle markings of the TNC while in service.
  • Ensure that the TNC’s drivers comply with all rules and operating standards.
  • Forward correspondence from the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to the TNC’s drivers.
  • Require that passengers can view a TNC driver’s photo and the vehicle’s license plate number on the device used to connect with the dispatch application before the trip is initiated.
  • Maintain insurance and proof of insurance.
  • Notify the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services when drivers or licensees are convicted of serious criminal offenses that have a bearing on their ability or fitness to operate a taxicab. Such offenses may include: theft, fraud, robbery, burglary, assault, sex crimes, alcohol, drugs or prostitution.
  • Notify the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services if a TNC driver is involved in a traffic accident, has a driver license suspended or for-hire or TNC endorsements revoked.
  • Employ a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy with respect to TNC drivers.
  • Review and maintain records of criminal background checks and driving records of TNC drivers. Drivers convicted within the last seven years for any alcohol or drug related offense, reckless driving, hit and run or driving with a suspended or revoked license are not permitted to provide TNC services.
  • Require a safety inspection by an approved mechanic of affiliated TNC vehicles before they provide services and annually thereafter.
  • Pay any penalties imposed by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.
  • Report assaults or robberies of TNC drivers if they have not reported these crimes themselves.

Transportation network companies must maintain insurance coverage, in compliance with RCW 48.177.010 for all TNC-affiliated vehicles at any time they are active on a TNC application.

During the period before a passenger requests a ride, the insurance coverage must include:

  • Bodily injury limits of at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident.
  • At least $30,000 for property damage.

During the period from when the passender requests a ride until the passenger leaves the vehicle, the insurance coverage must include:

  • Combined single limit liability coverage in the amount of one million dollars for death, personal injury, and property damage.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of one million dollars.

Additionally, policies must:

  • Name the City of Seattle as an additional insured. 
  • Be issued by an admitted carrier with an A.M. Best Rating of not less than B+ (VII) unless an exemption has been met.
  • Provide that the insurer will send a 30-day cancellation notice.
  • Not include aggregate limits or named driver exclusions.

Transportation network companies must file evidence of insurance with the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Drivers must keep proof of commercial insurance in their vehicles while operating them. If you are a TNC driver, you must also maintain your own auto insurance policy to provide coverage when your vehicle is not being used to transport passengers.

Transportation network companies must provide a written insurance disclosure to TNC drivers that includes the following statements:

"[insert full corporate name and designation of TNC] confirms, in accordance with SMC 6.310.260.A.2., that while driver [insert driver's full name] is active on its TNC dispatch system as defined by SMC 6.310.110, the driver's vehicle is insured as required by RCW 48.177.010."

"WHILE OPERATING ON THE DIGITAL NETWORK OR SOFTWARE APPLICATION OF THE COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES PROVIDER, YOUR PRIVATE PASSENGER AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY MIGHT NOT AFFORD LIABILITY, UNDERINSURED MOTORIST, PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION, COMPREHENSIVE, OR COLLISION COVERAGE, DEPENDING ON THE TERMS OF THE POLICY.IF THE VEHICLE THAT YOU PLAN TO USE TO PROVIDE COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES FOR OUR COMPANY HAS A LIEN AGAINST IT, YOU MUST NOTIFY THE LIENHOLDER THAT YOU WILL BE USING THE VEHICLE FOR COMMERCIAL TRANSPORTATION SERVICES THAT MAY VIOLATE THE TERMS OF YOUR CONTRACT WITH THE LIENHOLDER."

Online dispatch applications, which are sometimes called mobile apps or online apps, allow people to request dispatch of drivers for trips or to accept payments for trips via the Internet using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Drivers for transportation network companies may only accept payment for fares through an online dispatch application; they may not accept cash fares.

Online dispatch applications must make the rate structure transparent, including any variable fees or possible surcharges, before the customer confirms the ride.

Transportation network companies must use an online dispatch application; taxicab associations and for-hire companies may use them with approval from the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

The online dispatch application use by transportation network companies must include a telephone number, website link and email through which passengers can register complaints about drivers suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The application also must include the phone number and email of the Consumer Protection Unit of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services for reporting  such complaints.

Application dispatch system rates must be transparent to customers in the online app when they request service and before they confirm the ride. The total fare, a fare range or a rate by distance or time must be displayed clearly on the application dispatch system. The system must also clearly display, before the ride is confirmed, any variables that may result in higher rates or fares, including tips, waiting time, demand pricing or any other surcharges.

Taxicab associations, for-hire vehicle companies and transportation network companies must compile accurate and complete operational records and keep these records for two years. The records must include:

  • The total number of rides provided by each taxi, for-hire vehicle license holder or transportation network company.
  • The type of dispatch for each ride (hail, phone, online app, etc.).
  • The percentage or number of rides picked up in each ZIP code.
  • The pick up and drop off ZIP codes of each ride.
  • The percentage by ZIP code of rides that are requested by telephone or applications but do not happen.
  • The number of collisions, including the name and number of the affiliated driver, collision fault, injuries and estimated damage.
  • The number of rides when an accessible vehicle was requested.
  • Reports of crimes against drivers.
  • Records of passenger complaints.
  • Any other data identified by the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services to ensure compliance.

Records may be maintained electronically.

Data must be reported quarterly to the director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. Reports are to be made electronically on forms provided by the director.

Drivers must complete driver's education and be tested in order to be licensed. The training must include completion of the National Safety Council's Defensive Driving Course and at least one additional driving training program approved by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Taxicab associations, for-hire vehicle companies or transportation network companies may provide driver training programs. Such programs must include:

  • Information about defensive driving.
  • Instruction on use of emergency equipment and procedures for driver safety.
  • Information about risk factors for crimes against drivers.
  • Training in passenger relations.
  • Information about standards of professional conduct.

Curriculum for driver training programs must be submitted by the association or company to the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services for approval each year.

Drivers must pass an examination in order to be licensed. The test may be administered by the City of Seattle, by the City jointly with King County, or by an approved taxicab association, for-hire vehicle company, transportation network company or third-party vendor. Examinations must test the driver's:

  • Knowledge of requirements and laws for operating taxicabs, for-hire vehicles or transportation network company vehicles.
  • Ability to speak and read English well enough to fulfill the duties of a driver.
  • Knowledge of vehicle safety requirements.
  • Knowledge of the geography of Seattle, King County and the surrounding region.
  • Knowledge of local public and tourist destinations and attractions.
  • Knowledge of risk factors for crimes against drivers, of emergency procedures and of personal safety equipment.

Exam procedures and content must be approved by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

All drivers and vehicle owners must consent to criminal background checks. Transportation network companies, for-hire vehicle companies and taxicab associations must review the background checks and maintain records of them.

The background checks may be conducted by fingerprinting the driver, with prints forwarded to the FBI or Washington State Patrol for investigation. They may also be conducted by a third-party vendor approved by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services.

Companies also must report criminal offenses by drivers that have bearing on the driver's fitness to operate a taxicab, transportation network company vehicle or for-hire vehicle. These criminal offenses include but are not limited to:

  • Fraud
  • Theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Assault
  • Sex crimes
  • Alcohol or drug offenses
  • Prostitution

All for-hire vehicles, transportation network company vehicles and taxicabs must undergo a uniform vehicle safety inspection before they can be used to provide services. This inspection covers all major components of the vehicle, as well as vehicle features that aid the driver and keep the passenger comfortable. Inspections certify that the vehicle is mechanically sound and fit for driving and will note that all plates, decals and notices required and supplied by the City are legible and properly displayed. The inspection must be done by a mechanic approved by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administrative Services. See the list of City-approved vehicle safety inspection mechanics.

It is the responsibility of the for-hire company, TNC or taxicab association to require that vehicles pass inspection and to maintain records of vehicle inspections.

Taxi and for-hire regulations and operating standards are enforced by City inspectors. Inspectors ride unannounced in taxis and for-hire vehicles to ensure that operating standards are met. If you have questions about driver or vehicle operating standards, please contact us.

You have 10 days to request a hearing if you receive a violation, suspension or revocation. Instructions for requesting a hearing will be on the reverse side of the Notice of Violation or License Action Form, or you may contact us.

If you receive a Notice of Infraction, you must respond within 15 days. Instructions for responding will be on the reverse side of the Notice of Infraction. Payments or requests for hearings are processed by Seattle Municipal Court.

You must pay any fines within 30 days of the issue date. Failure to pay could result in the loss of your license. This table lists Seattle fines for taxi and for-hire violations:

OffenseClassAmountPoints
1st A $35 2
2nd A $70 3
3rd A $120 4
1st B $70 4
2nd B $175 7
3rd B $300 10
All C $1000 20