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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: City of Seattle to hold lottery for 15 wheelchair accessible taxicab licenses

10/23/2009  2:00:00 PM
Craig Leisy (206) 386-1296
Denise Movius (206) 684-9259
Cyndi Wilder  (206) 684-0909
Julie Moore  (206) 684-0909

City of Seattle to hold lottery for 15 wheelchair accessible taxicab licenses
Lottery open to eligible Seattle taxicab drivers

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle will hold a lottery for 15 new Seattle wheelchair accessible taxicab (WAT) licenses in November 2009. The lottery is open to all eligible Seattle taxicab drivers. In preparation for the lottery, the city will hold informational meetings for licensed drivers on Oct. 28 and 29 at the Seattle Center. Letters of invitation are being sent to more than 2,500 Seattle taxicab drivers.

“By using a lottery and ensuring that the selected drivers meet all eligibility requirements, we will be able to reward the very best drivers who, with specialized training, will be able to provide excellent service to this vulnerable population,” said Craig Leisy, consumer affairs manager, who oversees Seattle’s taxicab licensing program.

Following the informational meetings, drivers will be able to submit their applications between Nov. 2 and Nov. 13. Drivers must apply in person and may submit only one application each. The lottery will select a list of drivers to be awarded the 15 new WAT licenses. Once eligibility has been confirmed, the licenses will be awarded in December so that the taxicabs can be available by March 2010, when Vancouver, B.C., hosts the Paralympic Games.

Drivers who are awarded the licenses must place the taxicabs into service within 60 days of the award, and they must be fulltime drivers, i.e., personally drive the WAT a minimum of 30 hours per week and 40 weeks per year.

“With a goal of having the best drivers in taxicabs providing service to the public, the City Council passed an ordinance in 2008 requiring all new taxicab licenses be awarded to fulltime drivers. This way, the public can expect outstanding taxi service, and the driver can make a decent living,” said Leisy.  

During 2007-08, the city of Seattle and King County jointly conducted a demonstration project with wheelchair accessible taxicabs. The purpose of the project was threefold:

  • to test the economic viability of privately owned and operated accessible taxicabs providing on-demand service to private-pay passengers at taximeter rates,
  • to assess the need for accessible taxicabs, and
  • to estimate how many WAT may be necessary to provide responsive service.

In July 2009, the joint Seattle-King County staff prepared a draft report recommending that 30 dual-licensed WAT licenses be issued. Dual licenses allow drivers to operate taxicabs in both Seattle and King County. The report recommended 30 licenses be issued to provide service response times comparable to standard taxis. In addition, with the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver B.C. coming up in March 2010, it is expected there will be increased demand for wheelchair accessible taxicabs in Seattle.

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Department of Executive Administration

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