Taxis, For-Hires and Transportation Network Companies

These pages provide information about City of Seattle rules for the operation of vehicles hired to transport passengers within the city. These vehicles include taxicabs, for-hire vehicles and transportation network company (TNC) vehicles.

City allows $1 fuel surcharge for taxicab and for-hire vehicles

Effective May 25, 2022, Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services activated an administrative rule that allows taxicab and for-hire vehicle operators to impose a $1 fuel surcharge on any trip originating within the Seattle city limits. This surcharge does not apply to rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft.

Director’s Rule R-6.310.530.I allows for a temporary $1 per trip surcharge when the average price of regular grade gas rises above $5 per gallon. According to the American Automobile Association, the price of regular grade gas rose above $5 per gallon in the Seattle area on May 10 and remained above that price for 14 consecutive days as required by the rule.

Fuel represents an out-of-pocket expense for taxicab and for-hire vehicle operators and the City’s rule helps protect the financial viability of the for-hire passenger transportation industry. The rule also specifies other temporary surcharge amounts if the average gas price further increases or the reduction or cancellation of the temporary surcharge if the average gas price decreases.

The City has asked taxicab and for-hire vehicle operators to conspicuously post surcharge notices near the meter in each taxicab or the center of the dashboard in a for-hire vehicle.

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Taxis

Taxicabs are vehicles that transport people for compensation. The passenger controls the route or destination. The vehicles are painted one solid color and have signs or lettering that include the words taxi, cab or taxicab. The City sets rates for fares, which are recorded by a taximeter. Taxicabs may use a dispatch system or service, or taxicabs can be hailed from the street. Learn about taxicab operation.

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For-hire vehicles

For-hire vehicles also transport people for compensation, but are different from taxicabs because they charge a flat fee per trip, rather than a metered fare like a taxi. The vehicles are painted more than one color and cannot be marked with the words taxi, cab or taxicab. For-hire vehicles can be hailed from the street. Learn about for-hire vehicle operation.

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Transportation network companies (TNCs)

TNC vehicles transport people for compensation. Unlike taxicabs and for-hire vehicles, they connect with passengers only through an online application using a device such as a smartphone or tablet. Fares are set by the TNC and must be shown to passengers and paid through the online application. Learn more about TNCs.