Portland to allow Uber ‘surge pricing’

SHARING ECONOMY ROUNDUP: Controversial surge pricing proposal moves forward in Portland; Bend places restrictions on vacation rentals.

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Ridesharing companies like Uber may be allowed to use surge pricing in Portland.

Traditional taxi companies will continue to be capped at $2.60 per mile, Willamette Week reports.

Cab companies, which have for months decried Uber’s return, say this is another case of the city creating an uneven playing field. 

“What the task force is suggesting is taxi companies continue to play by the same rules while writing a whole new set of rules for Uber—which are lighter,” says Kelliann Amico, spokeswoman for the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a coalition of six Portland cab companies. “It’s unfair. All we’re asking for are legal and level recommendations. What the task force is suggesting is completely contradictory to that.”

The surge pricing proposal will be discussed today at a Private For-Hire Transportation Innovation Task Force meeting.

OregonLive.com reports:

Other recommendations include:

  • Allowing app-based ride-hailing companies to pay a blanket annual fee for taxi permits, regardless of how many drivers are picking up riders in the city. Meanwhile, each traditional cabbies would still be expected to pay for his or her own license.
  • Requiring Uber to carry liability insurance of “$1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate” for when a driver is involved in a crash with a customer in the vehicle. The companies would also be required to carry a liability policy of up to $100,000 for crashes that happen between fares. Of course, with the insurance issue being addressed at the state level in the Legislature, the insurance piece may soon be settled for the city. 
  • Permitting Uber and Lyft to ignore rules requiring cab companies to make at least 10 percent of vehicles wheelchair-accessible for disabled riders. Instead, the companies’ drivers would be required to redirect requests from disabled riders to a third party transportation service. The companies would also be required to pay the city a surcharge of 10 cents on each ride to subsidize transportation services for the disabled. 

RELATED NEWS: Get on the bus!, Transportation Fairness Alliance holds demonstration in Pioneer Square

Bend places restrictions on vacation rentals

All short-term rentals in Bend will be required to obtain a permit, which can be revoked, under new measures approved by the Bend City Council on Wednesday.

The city aimed to prohibit rentals from clustering as well, the Bend Bulletin reports.

The Planning Commission recommended 7.5 percent of houses to be short-term rentals within an area extending 250 feet in any direction from a rental’s residential property line. The council threw that idea out, with Councilor Victor Chudowsky noting that a percentage doesn’t prevent clustering, as two rentals could still be next to each other. Chudowsky instead suggested only one rental be allowed within a certain distance, later decided to stay at 250 feet.

“That’s what we are here to stop,” he said.

The city has spent $140,000 to develop rules around short term rentals.

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