City officials say ridesharing company is following its rules.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Uber has been operating legally in Portland for half of its mandated pilot period, and city officials say the ridesharing company is following the rules.
According to Oregonian transportation reporter Joseph Rose, Uber and Lyft are providing the city with the data it requested.
Uber announced Wednesday that it has provided more than 100,000 rides in Portland since launching.
But which neighborhoods has it served the most? Unsurprisingly, the ones in the inner city.
- Northwest District
- Old Town/Chinatown
- Lloyd District
Bloomberg Business took notice of Uber’s early success in Portland, writing a story headlined “This Is How Uber Takes Over a City: To conquer America’s quirkiest city, the company unleashed its biggest weapon.”
“Portland has some of the most extreme protectionist laws that we’ve seen around the country,” [Chief Executive Officer Travis] Kalanick told a local TV station. A few days later, Uber defiantly said on its blog that “outdated local regulations” didn’t prevent it from making deliveries, so it ran a one-day promotion serving ice cream around town. It was like when the company shuttled puppies from shelters to offices in 10 cities before the Super Bowl. In City Hall, the ice cream tasted like belligerence. “It was like, ‘Whoaaaa,’ ” [director of strategic initiatives Josh] Alpert says. “I know every city says this, but we are not used to that in Portland. It was just all about Uber.”
Uber soon asked the city’s Private For-Hire Transportation Board—made up of industry reps, drivers, and community members—to remove the one-hour requirement. It also deployed some classic political strategies. [Lobbyist David] Plouffe likens customers to campaign volunteers, and the ice cream stunt provided the company with a database of consumers it could turn into advocates. In an era of low voter turnout, Uber has managed to get almost a million people to sign its petitions in the past year. “Not many private-sector companies have that kind of passionate set of consumers that will go the extra mile,” Plouffe says. In Portland, almost 1,700 people signed a change.org petition to “tell Uber to bring their stylish rides to Oregon.” The company also solicited supportive letters from local business leaders.
The City Council will use data from the pilot period to develop a long term ridesharing policy.