When Uber began operating illegally in Portland in early December, it was clearly an act of protest against a local government that had flatly denied its right to operate after years of attempted negotiations. The city was quick to fire back with a lawsuit and some unkind words, which didn’t slow down the drivers even a little. But all love may not be lost between the city of Portland and Uber. On Sunday, Uber suspended pickups in Portland, a ceasefire that it will continue for three months while the local government amends its existing laws.
The joint announcement from the transportation company and the mayor’s office laid out a plan that would allow the city some time to determine how to accommodate the new type of business, while still preserving the taxi and limo businesses’ right to operate. A committee has been established that “will focus on taxi cabs and transportation network companies, with discussion and recommendations on the following areas: whether to continue to limit the total number of permits granted, whether to have a regulated pricing system, mandated criteria (including insurance, inspections and background checks), and accessibility.” These were the areas of most concern to consumers, and the Private For-Hire Transportation Board of Review, when Uber initially proposed changes to the codes in 2013.
The committee will announce the final changes at a council meeting on April 9, 2015. If they haven’t been able to set the proper regulations in motion by then though, things will get interesting. The mayor’s office has made a promise that a temporary provision would be issued after three months if an agreeable solution hasn’t been found, that will allow ride-sharing companies to resume operation within Portland, opening up the door for competitors like Lyft and Sidecar to enter the city as well.
Importantly for residents, the new resolution doesn’t affect pickups outside of Portland city limits. Uber has already been operating legally in the greater Portland area for months, but drivers were only allowed to drop off riders within the city, they weren’t allowed to pick up new fares. This will continue to be the case as the city and Uber decide how to best move forward.