Riding in taxis, for-hire vehicles, and TNCs
Riders and drivers both have an obligation to treat each other and their belongings with respect and to follow rules. King County and the City of Seattle jointly regulate taxis, for-hire vehicles, and transportation network companies (TNCs, also known a app-based ride services) to ensure rides are safe and serve our community needs. If you don't find what you're looking for in the frequently asked questions below, you can review our regulations or email us.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Taxis: Taxicabs are vehicles that transport people for compensation and accept multiple forms of payment, such as cash or credit card. The passenger controls the route and destination. The vehicles are painted one solid color and have signs or lettering that include the words "taxi," "cab," or "taxicab." King County sets rates for fares, which are recorded by a taximeter. Taxicabs may use a dispatch system, online application or can be hailed from the street.
- 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 driver must be able to show you the rate, based on pick up and drop off zip codes, before you start the trip. They accept multiple forms of payment, such as cash or credit card. The vehicles are painted more than one color and cannot be marked with any of the following words: "taxi," "cab," or "taxicab." For-hire vehicles may use a dispatch system, online application, or can be hailed from the street.
- Transportation Network Company (TNC) Vehicles: 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. Fares are set by the TNC and must be shown to passengers and paid through the online application. Cash payment is not allowed and vehicles cannot be hailed from the street.
Both the driver and the vehicle must be licensed/permitted and both of those licenses/permits must be visible to passengers. Here is a description of how TNC vehicles must display their permit and vehicle endorsement. Taxi and for-hire vehicles must display the for-hire driver license the same as a TNC driver, while the vehicle endorsement must be visible on the back of the vehicle and looks like a mini-license plate with one of or both the "King County" and "City of Seattle" wording and logo.
- Before you get in a taxi or for-hire vehicle, check for the King County and/or City of Seattle plates on the rear of the vehicle. For a TNC, check the front windshield for the TNC vehicle endorsement sticker (green with a bar code) and make sure the vehicle license plate matches what you see in the TNC app.
- Inside the vehicle, look for the for-hire driver license/permit on either the passenger-side dashboard or on the back of the front seat.
- For TNC rides, you can ask the driver to say their name and your name before you get in. Also, several TNC's have an in-app feature for you to share your ride information with a friend or family member.
Yes, drivers must complete for-hire driver training and a defensive driving course.
A driver cannot refuse you a ride based on your destination. The only reasons a driver can refuse you a ride is if you are disorderly, threatening or acting in a suspicious manner, if the driver has already been dispatched on another call, if you cannot show ability to pay the fare, or if you refuse to state a specific destination.
A driver shall at all times assist a passenger by placing luggage or packages that are under fifty pounds in and out of the vehicle and cannot charge you an extra fee for luggage.
When calling a taxi or for-hire dispatch, simply request an accessible vehicle. TNCs (app-based ride services) may have an accessibility setting or mode within the app or offer accessible vehicles as a ride type, but if not, they must provide an internet link, application, or phone number to a service that provides one.
A driver must allow an assist or guide dog for a disabled or handicapped passenger.
A driver shall provide each passenger an electronic or paper receipt upon payment of the fare.
Some companies may charge specific amounts for rides to or from the airport. If so, it must be posted with other fare information. Please remember that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is not within Seattle city limits, so fare information listed for "Seattle" or "downtown" may be different than airport-specific rides.
Some TNCs may have a website option for using their service, in addition to the app-based option. We recommend checking with the company. Drivers cannot accept cash for fare payment.