Regulations and notices
King County is responsible for approving taxi, for-hire, and TNC companies and drivers who wish to operate in the following areas: King County, Port of Seattle including Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (requires additional Port of Seattle authorization) and within the city limits of Auburn, Bellevue, Burien, Covington, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Maple Valley, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, and Shoreline.
King County and the City of Seattle partner to regulate the for-hire industry under the terms of an interlocal agreement whereby King County manages all for-hire driver licensing functions for both jurisdictions and Seattle manages all for-hire vehicle licensing functions for both jurisdictions. Regulations across the two jurisdictions vary slightly and complete versions of each set of regulations are available:
Notice of Proposed Public Rules
- Taximeters (LIC-8-4-PR): guidance for testing and approving taximeters, including smart taximeters, and authorizes taxis to vary fares from those established in SMC 6.310.530 and KCC 6.64.760 when using the application dispatch system (ADS) function of a smart taximeter system
- Application Dispatch Systems (LIC-8-5-PR): updated requirements for using an application dispatch system (ADS) and recognition of the ADS function within a smart taximeter system
- Temporary Changes to Insurance Requirements for Taxicabs and For-Hire Vehicles (LIC-8-6-PR): temporary changes to insurance requirements with the goal of increasing cost-effective insurance options for taxicab and flat-rate/for-hire vehicle owners.
Policy and fee changes
King County and the City of Seattle are working together to revise for-hire transportation regulations. In late 2017 and early 2018, we met with many medallion owners, taxi associations, for-hire companies, and several other stakeholders to gather your input on how we can best work with the for-hire transportation industry. Based on those conversations, we are proposing some policy changes. Throughout the first few months of 2021, we reached out to taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers, medallion owners, taxi associations and for-hire companies and other stakeholders through surveys, small in-person conversations, and virtual meetings to listen to your thoughts.
What we heard: surveys
We hosted a survey in February and asked medallion owners and drivers to tell us the problems they face working in for-hire transportation and the changes they would like to see. Here's what we heard:
- Most respondents have been a taxicab or for-hire driver for more than 5 years, drive full-time as their primary source of income and do not drive for any other service.
- The cost of insurance was the number one challenge cited, followed closely by the cost of regulatory fees.
- Differences in regulations between TNCs and taxicabs and for-hire vehicles, particularly about rates, were also frequently cited as contributors to a lack of business and revenue for taxicab and for-hire vehicles.
- Some survey respondents also mentioned vehicle age limits and airport fees or short trips as challenges.
In addition to the survey, we met with taxicab associations, for-hire vehicle companies and trade groups to discuss industry challenges and proposed regulatory changes. Themes from these meetings largely mirror the survey responses.
What we heard: focus groups
We hosted five focus groups with medallion owners and drivers in March and asked for reactions to specific policy proposals on topics like creating regional medallions and transitioning all for-hire vehicles to taxicabs. Here's what we heard:
- Most participants support moving to a regional medallion system, transitioning all for-hire vehicles to taxicabs, adopting smart taximeters and allowing flexible rates. Some participants expressed concerns over appropriately compensating current Dual medallion owners if all medallions become Dual.
- Participants want the City and County to relax insurance requirements to try to increase the number of insurers serving the market. Few insurance options mean higher rates.
- Medallion owners and drivers need immediate relief, such as reduced or waived regulatory fees or other financial assistance as the industry continues to struggle during the COVID pandemic.
Where we're going: plans
Based on the feedback heard, the City and County will take the following actions:
- Propose legislation to implement regional medallions, transition all for-hire vehicles to taxicabs, adopt smart taximeters, adjust insurance requirements and make other changes intended to ease and streamline regulations. We expect to transmit legislation to the City Council and County Council by the end of 2021.
- Provide immediate relief through reduced fees for the upcoming licensing year and suspending enforcement of the 10-year vehicle age limit until June 30, 2022. The details of this immediate relief package are shown below.
- Reduce the annual medallion (license) fee from $200 to $100,
- Reduce the change of vehicle medallion owner (licensee) July - December fee from $200 to $100,
- Reduce the change of vehicle medallion owner (licensee) January - June (half year) fee from $100 to $50,
- Reduce the taxicab association and for-hire company annual fee
- One to fifteen vehicles - from $125 to $65,
- Sixteen to twenty-five vehicles - from $250 to $125,
- Twenty-six or more vehicles - from $500 to $250, and
- Reduce the for-hire driver's annual license fee from $44 to $24.
- Reduce the annual medallion (license) fee from $500 to $300,
- Reduce the late fee (medallion (license) renewal) from $60 to $30,
- Reduce the change of vehicle medallion owner (licensee) July - December fee from $500 to $300,
- Reduce the change of vehicle medallion owner (licensee) January - June (half year) fee from $250 to $150,
- Reduce the taxicab association annual fee from $1,000 to $100, and
- Reduce the for-hire driver's annual license fee from $50 to $25.
- Reduce the estimated WAS Surcharge for City-only and dual (City and County) taxi medallions from $145 to $29 per year, and
- Reduce the estimated WAS Surcharge for County-only taxi medallions and all for-hire vehicle medallions from $85 to $17 per year.
We want to hear from you! If you have questions or feedback, please email our For-Hire and Shared Transportation team at FAST@kingcounty.gov.