Local business license applications by drivers for Uber and Lyft surged to their highest level ever in March.
In addition, the number of license applications received by the city of Tacoma from January through March — 863 — surpassed the total number of licenses granted in 2015, the first full year Uber and Lyft were regulated by the city, business license data show.
The number of drivers has climbed rapidly this year as ads appeared on social media in the weeks leading up to UberEats’ February launch in Tacoma.
Of 937 applications filed through April 15, 753 people say they are driving for Uber, which could mean they are also driving for UberEats.
UberEats is a different app than Uber’s passenger service, said Northwest Uber spokesman Nathan Hambley in an email Tuesday.
“Both are important parts of our business and rapidly growing,” Hambley wrote.
Hambley said in February that restaurants from Frederickson to Tacoma have signed up for the service.
In fall 2014, the city of Tacoma passed rules requiring drivers who use the company smartphone apps that locate potential riders to apply for business licenses if they intend to pick up riders in Tacoma and Pierce County.
In 2015, 477 people received licenses to drive for Uber or Lyft, the companies that allow users to hail drivers with their smartphones.
In 2016, 1,844 people filed for a business license for what the city calls “for-hire transportation service companies.”
Business license data show more drivers register to drive in October or November than other times of the year, perhaps because of perceived demand for the service during the holidays.
Lyft did not respond to multiple requests for comment.