You may have seen cars driving around the Seattle area with oversized, hot pink moustaches on their front grills. Those moustaches are trademarks for a new car service company called Lyft, one of several ride-sharing services now operating in the city. Think of them like Airbnb, but with a car and a driver. Lyft, Uber X and Sidecar allow laypeople to use their own cars and act as cabbies. The services are expanding in Seattle, and they’re drawing increased scrutiny from the cab industry, as well as from regulators and policymakers. Some officials say the businesses are illegal.
A couple of years ago, Democratic politicians at the state and national levels set heady goals for battery powered cars. For example, in his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama said, "With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015."
Taxi cabs have a new breed of competitors. New companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar give smartphone users the ability to reserve a ride through an app on their phone. Some of the companies use private car owners as their main drivers. Will traditional taxis fall by the wayside? How are these new companies regulated? Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW’s transportation reporter, Derek Wang.