Portland Mayor, transportation head propose letting taxi companies set prices ahead of allowing ridesharing companies to operate.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Under new temporary regulations, Portland taxi companies would be allowed to set prices as they prepare to compete with ridesharing companies.
The vote on a 120-day pilot program is set for Tuesday evening, according to OregonLive.com.
In turn, Uber and Lyft would be required to provide service to people with disabilities, have vehicles on the streets around the clock and certify drivers using their private vehicles as de facto taxis have passed city-approved background checks — just like traditional cab companies. …
Portland residents could once again hail an Uber ride “in a matter of days after the vote,” said PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera. The proposal was met with immediate protest from the Transportation Fairness Alliance, a coalition of the city’s taxi companies, which portrayed Uber and Lyft as transportation charlatans that can’t be trusted.
Commissioner Steven Novick, who is in charge of transportation issues at City Hall, said the new regulations address the taxi companies’ two main concerns: “One is, simply, that they should be protected from competition in order to ensure a living wage for drivers and good service for people with disabilities. Given that our best information is that the average net hourly income of Portland taxi drivers is $6.22 an hour, and given the complaints people in the disability community have about taxi service, we are not entirely persuaded by that argument.”
Residents may be able to hail an Uber driver by the end of the week, Willamette Week reports.
Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera says that once Council approves the plan, it will take “a matter of days or a week or so,” for the agency to get the pilot up and running.
“With our public involvement process everyone knows what’s on the table and [the ride-hailing companies] are able to prepare,” Rivera says. “We believe they’ve started background checking drivers.”
Uber General Manager for the Northwest Brooke Steger lauded the proposal.
From the Portland Tribune:
“We are thrilled that the Citizen Task Force listened to the thousands of Portland residents who want to see a permanent home for ridesharing in Portland; we’re hopeful the City Council will listen to Portlanders and implement this reasonable resolution at their meeting next week. After we voluntarily paused operations in Portland in December, we were proud to continue service in the suburbs — connecting communities, complementing existing public transportation, and partnering with local organizations to help make drunk driving a thing of the past. We look forward to doing the same here in Portland — providing safe, reliable rides and economic opportunities to all Portlanders,” said Steger.
Lyft Public Policy Communications Manager Chelsea Wilson said her company also supports the program: “This is an exciting first step toward securing a future for Lyft in the City of Portland and we appreciate the city’s commitment to welcoming ridesharing. Portland residents have spoken up in support of increased transportation options. We look forward to bringing Lyft’s safe, affordable, community-powered rides to the area soon and urge the Council’s support for the ridesharing pilot program,” Wilson said.
RELATED NEWS: Get on the bus!