Portland, Oregon. Photo via Flickr user StuSeeger.

If you were out ringing in the new year on Tuesday evening in Portland, Ore., finding a ride home may have been difficult: There are only 460 licensed taxis serving a city of more than a half-million residents.

Uber, the San Francisco-based transportation network company that lets customers hail and pay for rides with their smartphones, wants to give Portlanders more options to get around town. In fact, the company has been trying to enter the market for more than six months without success.

“Despite your passionate pleas for us to come here, outdated local regulations designed to protect the taxi industry make our presence impossible,” Uber wrote in a blog post in July.

uber212It’s the latest example of the clash between traditional transportation companies and the new breed of tech-savvy upstarts upending the industry. In Seattle, startups such as Lyft, Sidecar and UberX (Uber’s lower-cost ridesharing option) are operating in violation of city laws, and objecting to proposed regulations that would bring them into compliance with city rules.

The conflict in Portland involves the traditional upscale “Uber Black” service, which partners with existing professional drivers. And at least for now, it appears Portland will still be the only major West Coast city without Uber after the city’s Private for-Hire Transportation Board of Review last month unanimously rejected Uber’s requests to make the legal changes that the company says would allow it to operate Uber Black effectively.

The board, which advises city officials on decisions relating to the private for-hire transportation industry, plans to recommend in an official communication to Mayor Charlie Hales and City Commissioner Steve Novick that the city not make the proposed alterations.

As Uber continues to set up shop in more than 60 cities worldwide, it has struggled to find a way into the Portland market. The transportation network company first announced its intentions for the Rose City back in July and even ran an ice cream delivery promotion to help drum up support.

Then, a few months later, Uber’s head of global public policy Corey Owens met with the board of review — which is made up of industry representatives from both taxi and non-taxi companies — and asked that Portland make changes to its city code, including:

  • Removing a requirement that forces customers to arrange a trip with an executive sedan or limousine at least 60 minutes prior to pick-up. For example, if you request a town car and it comes in 10 minutes, you must wait 50 minutes before you are legally allowed to enter the vehicle.
  • Removing a requirement that forces executive sedans and limousines to charge a 35% fixed premium above current taxi rates established by the city.

uber221At the meeting, Owens explained that the 60-minute rule forces drivers to charge higher rates to make up for the hour-long wait.

“What if that same driver could complete 30 trips a day at $15 a trip?” Owens asked the board. “Drivers and their companies will make two to three times what they were making before Uber Technologies was allowed into the market.”

Kathleen Butler, who chairs the Private-For-Hire Transportation Board and represents the city’s Revenue Bureau, told GeekWire via phone that these rules were put into place to regulate the for-hire industry and promote separation between different industry segments.

When taxis first began operating, Butler explained, they had to follow certain rules — accepting all customers regardless of trip distance, operating a 24/7 live dispatch, having cameras in vehicles, setting regulated fares, making a certain number of vehicles accessible to disabled people, etc.

But when the luxury providers entered the market, those companies didn’t want to meet all of those requirements because they offered a different type of transportation service — one that did not base fares on distance and time. So, in an effort to avoid being placed under the strict regulations, Butler said they asked to be distinguished from the taxi market.

That’s why the 60-minute and minimum fare rules were put into place. Without these regulations for luxury providers, Butler said that it would create a “competitive disadvantage” for the taxi industry and end up actually limiting choice for citizens.

uber2121“If the taxis have all those extra rules and costs, and luxury competitors don’t [have any regulation], it destabilizes the taxi market,” she explained. “You’ll end up not having a taxi available when that elderly person needs to get to the drug store, or when someone comes out of the bar and doesn’t want to drive home. There might not be a taxi that wants to take those fares because of all this weakening in the taxi market.”

When asked if the board is trying to protect the taxi industry, which the city considers an extension of its public transportation system, Butler said no.

“We’re protecting industry segment separation, and ensuring stability and availability of service,” she said. “Protecting consumers is our first priority. If we can find a way to enable Uber, or anyone else who’s providing an option to operate without damaging that industry stability, then we’ll figure that out. We do want to foster competitive, innovative and efficient service.”

In a blog post written nine days after he testified in front of the Board, Uber’s Owens criticized Portland’s current regulations and likened them to government forcing Apple to make songs on iTunes cost a minimum of $3.50 or forcing Netflix to require customers to wait an hour before watching TV episodes.

“This laughable scenario is frighteningly real in the fight to revolutionize urban transportation,” Owens wrote.

portland1111He also called Portland’s Private-For-Hire Transportation Board a “self-interested regulator,” since the Board includes representatives from the taxi industry itself.

“This is regulation by the taxi industry for the taxi industry,” Owens wrote. “Consumers’ interests are getting bulldozed by lobbyists, campaign contributions, and cronyism run amok.”

In a letter with similar conviction, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote to councilmember Novick and refuted Portland’s current city code that he said imposes “extreme limits on consumer choice and small business growth.”

“Protecting the taxi industry makes citizens and drivers worse-off and prohibits sedan companies and drivers from providing quality service at the best possible price,” Kalanick wrote.

Drivers and leaders from the for-hire industry — like many of their counterparts around the nation — are up in arms about Uber. Here are a few comments from the September meeting:

Broadway Cab president Raye Miles: “Uber takes the most profitable fares away from the taxicab drivers. What happens to a customer that gets used to using Uber and one day because of bad weather, surge pricing goes into effect and the fare goes up to a level that customer can’t afford anymore? Uber should not be allowed to provide on-demand service in the City of Portland.”

Lucky Limousine and Town Car CEO Alan Jochim: “What happens when another company like Uber comes to town who does not require their drivers to be permitted and insured? What happens if a consumer hits multiple applications on their phone and now has two or three different cars coming to pick them up? How is that going to be monitored? Who will keep track of the companies and the vehicles being used by them?

Kedir Wako from Union Cab Company: “I have been researching Uber in other cities and it appears Uber does not serve all people equally. They do not serve people with disabilities and they do not serve people with only cash. The cab drivers are not clear as to who they are working for. This sounds like discrimination.”

Butler noted how Portland actually does have a few smartphone apps, like Taxi Magic, that people can use to hail rides from existing providers. At the September meeting, Radio Cab Company lobbyist Darin Campbell noted that his service just launched an online reservation app on Android.

“We have the technology to fulfill that need,” Campbell said.

The Board’s problem with Uber doesn’t seem to be its smartphone technology; rather, it is mainly concerned with leveling the playing field and protecting consumers, as Butler indicated above. Butler also said that she actually hasn’t seen a huge demand for a service like Uber.

“Usually if someone is going to remove regulation, it comes because there is a public need for that,” Butler said. “Frankly, there hasn’t been much call to action from Portland citizens and we haven’t received much public comment from people who want Uber.”

techtownportlandHowever, there are at least a few who have voiced support for Uber in Portland, such as the Technology Association of Oregon, the Portland Business Alliance, several Portland startups and entrepreneurs, the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, as well as The Oregonian’s Editorial Board, which wrote this in October:

“There’s something to be said, however, for pushing back against a regulatory system that has produced a comparative taxi shortage while standing in the way of a service many people may want.”

Uber’s difficulties with Portland are not new, as the company has faced strong opposition from both the incumbents and governments themselves in several cities around the world. The startup is fighting similar legal battles in places like Houston, Calgary and Miami, which all have regulations in place — like the 60-minute rule and minimum fares — that mirror Portland’s.

But some cities, like Washington D.C., have figured out ways for Uber and taxicabs to co-exist.

As for the fast-growing “ride-sharing” startups like Lyft and Sidecar, which allow people to use their personal vehicles to shuttle passengers around (Uber’s “UberX” service falls into this category), they told us that while they think Portland would be a great fit, neither has plans to launch in the Rose City anytime soon. Three hours north up Interstate-5, those companies are waiting to see how Seattle decides to regulate them.

After making their official recommendation to the Portland City Council, Butler said that the Private-For-Hire Transportation Board will explore updates to city code that may account for new technologies and “help guide companies like Uber in terms of what they need to do in order to operate in Portland.” The Board will examine model regulations issued earlier this year by the International Association of Transportation Regulators — but Uber has made it clear that it’s not a fan of those rules. 

“They are a tried-and-true model of anti-competitive and collusive policymaking,” Uber’s Owens wrote of IATR’s proposed regulations. “They are a model of serving producers instead of consumers. And they are an excellent model for cities looking to find themselves on the wrong side of history.”

Butler said that Portland is open to companies like Uber, but wants to make sure everyone is playing by the same rules.

“Our whole goal is to come up with some standards that will allow Uber to come in, as long as they are willing to follow the rules,” she said. “I think it would be much better if they would just try and work a little bit with the regulators to understand perspective. That’s up to them.”

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  • Viet Nguyen

    Actions like these from city government only serve to stifle innovation and drive opportunities away. What a horrific decision by Portland.

  • Ghost Rider

    Simply sickening. Taxi companies, which universally offer crappy service (I travel all the time to major cities) now have competition. Boo Hoo. All of the BS stuff that’s in place “to protect the consumer” are fronts to protect an embedded industry. Medallions, etc. do nothing for the consumer.
    Of course this is a pervasive problem in other industries too. To operate a pet facility you need a license. Cut hair? you need a license and you need to have attended a cosmetology school. I guess learning how to operate a Flo-Bee isn’t enough.
    Non of these things do anything to help the consumer but they do put up a barrier to entry for existing industries that don’t like competition, don’t innovate, and mostly don’t offer a good service.

  • MichaelTompson

    I applaud this decision. There is no innovation in Uber (there are millions of GPS-enabled apps) and I choose to pay fares to local tranportation companies instead of enriching unregulated global wal-mart of tranportation aka Uber. Pay local – support your local economies – you don’t need your monies to
    end up in some offshore account. Kudos to regulators to finally catching up with
    company that through misleading social marketing campaigns, blatant refusals to
    be properly regulated and pay their share to local economies, and inadequate
    insurance, managed to enter markets free-of-charge and abuse local regulated
    systems for its own offshore-deposited profits.

    • Slaggggg

      So because that’s your decision, you want to force your decision on everyone else, because you know better than them? Nice mindset, comrade.

    • Ghost Rider

      Yea right. Have you actually tried to call a cab in the last 20 years? No thanks. In Ballard there is one parking spot for cabs and there’s never a cab in it which is perhaps why city counsel members kept getting DWI’s. Have you tried to actually get a cab? No idea when it is going to show up “30-60 mins” and no app that actually shows me what’s going on. I’m in the dark.
      With Uber I can go to the app, ask for a car, get a map showing where the driver is, get in the car and be where I need to be all within a few minutes.
      Another reminder of the bullying behavior of the taxi union- when the train to the airport went in, originally cab drivers were worried about losing revenue so they successfully petitioned the city to have the train STOP SHORT of the airport by 1 mile so travelers could continue the rest of the way in a cab!! Thank God that was overturned.
      And no I don’t work for Uber but yes, I am a customer and I do appreciate the way Uber is forcing the cruddy cab companies to compete.

      • That Guy

        Another selfish yuppie speaks!

        • Avian

          Personal attacks usually mean you’ve run out of arguments.

        • Avery

          “selfish yuppie”?

          What makes you say that?
          Can you point out anything specific in Ghost Rider’s comment that would support that characterization?

          • Farty Fartsalot

            It’s typical Portland logic. They generally hate anyone that isn’t a hipster..

          • Avery

            That is an ignorant generalization.

          • Farty Fartsalot

            An ACCURATE generalization. Fixed it for you, mamaluke.

          • Byron

            I just want to point out the your pseudo names of “Farty Fartsalot” and “That Guy” don’t help either of your arguments.

          • Farty Fartsalot

            Byron’s not any better. It sounds like a person with Down’s Syndrome attempting to pronounce the name “Brian.”

    • http://idlebandwidth.com/ John Pollard

      I guess you’re pretty selective on where you draw the “local” line. the Uber and Lyft drivers are local. Uber has teams (you know, people with jobs) in local cities.

    • Mike_Scarborough

      Excuse me, but since when do Uber and Lyft drivers stash their incomes in “some offshore account?” Most of the revenue goes to the LOCAL drivers. God forbid someone should be able to earn a living in Portland.

    • Anton Kartmann

      Well Mikey Tompson, yer outta luck partner!

    • Byron

      I want to point out that 80% of the fare paid goes to the local contractor driver and 20% goes to Uber which is based in San Fran. So your argument of money not staying local and going off-shore is moot.

  • Slaggggg

    Excellent reporting in this article – thank you GW.
    I am hoping one day I can live in a free country again.

  • http://www.athanrebelos.com/ Athan

    Here’s two reasons why passenger transportation must remain regulated. Portland is smart. SF, NY & LA are learning these lessons the hard way, http://blog.uber.com/2014/01/01/statement-on-new-years-eve-accident/, http://ktla.com/2014/01/01/uber-customers-complain-about-price-gouging-in-new-years-eve/#axzz2pHHczN79

    • shivaas

      Apparently you have never booked a flight or hotel room on NYE, Christmas or any of the peak holiday season, because guess what, all those industries imply mathematical algorithms that increase the prices as demand goes it. Its Economics 101 about Supply and demand forces in a market. Uber is no different – it provides a service between supply and demand of transportation, and it’ll charge a premium if demand is higher than supply. The consumers are aware of this and they can “choose” to use the service or not (no one’s forcing them to use Uber).

      • http://www.athanrebelos.com/ Athan

        Nonsense. Uber is an on demand service which has openly stated that it wants to put taxis out of business and which is actively trying to put it’s competitors out of business. Uber is all about market domination. If they ever approach that then there is no choice. Furthermore, this is an on demand service. It’s very rare that people walk up to an airline counter when they are ready to travel and book a flight. They usually do it well in advance and they actually have multiple tools they can use to find the best rates. Same with a hotel. That argument is just Travis’ hyperbole.

        • shivaas

          The only thing that is gonna put the taxis out of business are the consumers who will vote with their wallets. Same goes for Uber in markets where it will fail, or get beaten by competition from Lyft, Sidecar, or the taxis themselves. Its one thing to get beaten in a market by competition, another to not be allowed to complete and disrupt the market by regulatory bullcrap.

          • http://www.athanrebelos.com/ Athan

            These are naive statements that belong in a classroom. There is a brick and mortar aspect to passenger transportation which puts vehicles and drivers on the road. That is the aspect which demands regulation. Uber is bullying small, local cab companies like those in Portland with VC dollars. Companies like Radio Cab are just co-ops of taxi drivers. They aren’t well capitalized and seldom have any real funding available to battle a goliath like Uber. But that isn’t the point I am attempting to make anyway. What I am trying to say is that the operations must be regulated, not to limit competition but to protect the consumer at times and public safety at times. Uber has thousands of complaints throughout the internet of price gouging, reckless drivers and passenger assaults. Yet they claim that they are just a tech company and they do not need to be regulated. I say that Uber, Lyft or even taxis cannot have it both ways. Accountability needs to be enforced through regulation.

          • Ghost Rider

            Um, maybe the “small cab company” is small because they don’t innovate? They are just doing the same thing cab companies have been doing since the dawn if time.

            If Uber wants to put them out of business they’ll have to learn how to compete. That’s what happens in a free market.

            And please don’t give me that line about “helping the community.” If you’ve ever been in NYC when it is raining and tried to hail a cab and DON’T have big boobs and blond hair, forget it. Likewise the cabbies that won’t take you to the airport.

          • http://www.athanrebelos.com/ Athan

            You miss the point, I’m not speaking to the point of stifling competition. I’m speaking to the points of consumer protection and public safety. I’m not talking about the taxi industry, I’m talking about so called “ride shares” (which by the way the CPUC declared to be “Transportation Network Companies” because they do not meet the definition of “ride share”). Why is Uber so against regulation? Why didn’t Lyft simply go through the existing regulatory structure? It’s not as though new taxi companies or new car services don’t pop up every day (they do to this day). The fact of the matter is that they are each interested in two things, market domination and maximizing revenue. They shy away from any meaningful accountability and they even deny that they are transportation companies. Are you defending the notion that goliaths such as these should be left to regulate themselves? That would certainly be a foolish notion.

          • Ghost Rider

            Right, where would we be without government regulation? I would be fearful of even getting out of bed without government protections.

          • Avery

            “I’m speaking to the points of consumer protection and public safety.”

            How does the 60-minute rule provide either?

          • That Guy

            Being male and not afflicted with gynecomastia, and being a frequent visitor to New York, I can confidently state that I’ve often hailed taxis in the rain.

          • Sockett

            Why are you afraid of competition?

          • That Guy

            Let Uber operate by the same rules as the rest, rather than demanding special yuppie privileges. Oh, and let them disclose the details of their supposed insurance policies.

      • That Guy

        That’s not true. Taxi companies are prohibited from gouging their customers in the way that Uber wants to do.

        • moburke

          ‘gouging’ makes more rides available on nights like new year’s. the dynamic pricing brings more rides on line when they are most needed. the alternative is shortages. period.

          call a cab company at 1 am on january 1st, see what you get for that pure egalitarian regulated price. what you get, and what you (that guy) specifically are advocating for in your economic ignorance, is more drunk driving because of fewer cabs available at a given price on busy nights. that’s your decision, but it’s a pretty pathetic way just to assuage your feeling of being ‘gouged’ by reality.

    • Sockett

      As the President, Affiliated Taxi Services, LLC you seem to have a vested interest in keeping Uber out and you own drivers able to give the same lousy service you always do. Why not let the public decide and the free market reign?

  • Harkonnen

    Portlandia is losing its charm and showing its Marxist roots.

    • Harry Balls

      That’s right. And both you and uber can stay the F out!

    • apresdangerfield

      LOL @ “Marxist roots” As an outpost and city of the United States, Portland’s roots are almost entirely entrepreneurial in spirit, you ding-dong.

  • Larry

    “Outdated Regulations”? If you want your neighbor to give you a ride, just call your neighbor!

  • pitbullstew

    seems to me all that companies like uber et all have to do is comply with the rules and regulations that every one lese has to comprt with? whats the problem with that?
    i mean ya’ll can go on and on about what you think is wrong with taxi services all you want, it just seeme to me if they want to come inot the market place then fine do that but do it by the rules everyone eklse is and has been running by

    • moburke

      lol better service = “race to the bottom”


  • http://www.jeff.wilcox.name/ Jeff Wilcox

    I fully support Uber trying to innovate around these old and antiquated rules. Clearly there wouldn’t be a market for these innovations if people found the existing services offered by traditional companies acceptable.

    One note: your article mentions that this makes Portland one of the only cities that is unable to accept Uber, but in reality many of us would consider Vancouver, BC another high tech west coast city, and it has run into the $75 town car minimum law up there, among other things, making it another difficult-for-Uber city.

    • Taylor Soper

      Hi Jeff, thanks for the comment. I was referring to U.S. cities in terms of “west coast,” but you’re right — Vancouver is definitely a high-tech hub as well, and another city Uber is having trouble in.

    • That Guy

      Yep, it’s pretty tough when Uber can’t screw its customers with impunity.

      • Corey

        Such BS. Its competiton, and competition that gets my money because it’s effective and beneficial to me as the consumer. I’ve had nothing but positive, quick, and safe rides with Uber’s model.

  • Stan

    Some insight from the front lines.

    I work overnight (10pm-8am) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at a hotel in downtown PDX. Instead of calling the cab companies (5-10 minute wait for a operator) I just hand the guests a piece of paper with the names of Radio, Broadway, Union, and Green Taxi (over 85% of permitted vehicles in the city) and let them know to prepare for a 25-60 minute wait time. Good luck if you need a van or handicap accessible taxi. If the guest really wants me to call, I lie to taxi companies and say the guest is going to airport. This guarantees a taxi usually within 10 minutes due to the high fare from downtown to the airport. If I am honest and say where they are really going, see above mentioned wait times. With new hotel construction in next few years (convention center hotels, ect..) they will enter a new level to service large conventions with their hotel rooms supply. Without Uber (more taxi’s isn’t the solution) Portland as a city will be laughed at when organizers realize the politics in play and lack of transportation for their visitors.

    Please read this report. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/revenue/article/397492

    Please focus on this number: $26,000

    That is the average “kitty” which is what drivers HAVE to pay to taxi companies to operator one of their vehicles each year as an independent contractor. That means no car insurance or health insurance. So a driver has to pay to operate a taxi, pay for the car insurance, pay for his own health insurance and pay for gas. Do you think they would want to work for Uber or Radio/Broadway?

    I know 2 taxi drivers, personally. I have their work schedule. What do we do? Surprise, surprise. I call their cell directly so they can have taxi fare’s off the books and pocket the transaction (one uses Square for his off the books rides!). Do incentives govern behavior? I don’t know but they seem to magically appear within 15 minutes each time. They have offered me cash kick backs again and again, but I have refused again and again.


    Because having a taxi show up in a fair amount of time for guests paying hundreds of dollars to say in a hotel and don’t want to drive so they can have a enjoyable night with loved ones and friends after busting their butts all week at their jobs seems like a reasonable thing to me.

    Somehow, not to the city of Portland.

    • brandsteve

      Dead on. I had had many experiences where both Radio Cab and Broadway take my call, tell me a taxi will be there in 30 minutes and never shows up. Calling back to ask what happened results in excuses not action.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      No, lease drivers pay the cab rental and gas. That is it. They do not pay for taxi insurance.

      Owner drivers pay for dispatch, car insurance, licenses, gas, auto maintainance & replacement.

      Health insurance? All self employed people pay for their own medical insurance.

    • moburke

      no no no, just ask @disqus_N6x6QHd14W:disqus and @pitbullstew:disqus the taxis is the only way to do it and that’s the way we do it and any side effects are not our fault because our intentions and blissful ignorance overshadow harsh grown-up reality.

      no gouging! no taxis available? no problem!

    • hhhhhh

      this is from a cab driver been in business for over than 10 year and i am telling you that you are not telling the truth. Portland is full of homeless and its not new York or Seattle. here people are very cheap they will like Uber but Uber drivers will not like them. lots of drivers are leaving the business because the city adds more taxis plates.

  • steve

    Now throw in the real kicker, they want to skim from the top and not be responsible as a dispatch company. I would love to be able to run a transportation company but not be responsible for passenger safety, who is driving the car and their actions and if the car is insured. Sounds like a gypsy car service not a company that works with sedan companies. Uber partner companies are popping up along with lyft and sidecar. Check the Craig’s list in any major city. They advertise for drivers. It is not your local sedan companies in a lot of cases.
    Following the regulations for making sure a on demand vehicle is recognizable on site is critical in determining if uber is at fault. There is a reason colors have been used for 100 years to help the riding public identify an on demand licensed cab service.
    It is not about uber black , quote on quote, it is about deregulating ground transportation business.They are just using the vocal 1 percent to distract politicians .

  • Kathy

    Good for Portland! Uber just charged my friend $258 for a 9 mile cab ride on NYE. RIDICULOUS! That’s not price gouging???

    • Here’s to drunk friends

      Your friend is a dip s#%t. Uber quotes the price up front, quite clearly. She could have called a cab…

      • That Guy

        That’s actually not true. Uber’s prices have been known to change in mid-ride, without warning. But hey, when you’re a yuppie whose company is paying your fare, why should you worry?

        • aml25

          What’s with you calling people yuppies? It doesn’t really make sense when you use it as conmon as someone would call people an @$$h0le. Go away please.

        • msa

          …say what? When they’re doing surge pricing, they make you confirm it, and you can always ask for an estimate beforehand. The rate is fixed at the time you request the ride.

    • iconoclast

      Price was known up front. If surge pricing was active then your friend had to accept the surge pricing.

      On NY Eve surge pricing at 2am was 3.75X. We danced for another hour and pricing was down to normal. But people who just had to get somewhere had the option to do that.

    • moburke

      and what was the wait on a real genuine cab ride? is your friend unable to discern between options? i say outlaw everything but cabs and ring in the new year with a duii when you can’t wait.

  • brandsteve

    I have had a ridiculous number of bad experiences with both Broadway & Radio Cab. They need to be disrupted out of business — not protected.

    • That Guy

      If they “disrupted out of business” by competitors operating under the same rules, fine. But the yuppie geek taxis want (surprise!) special privileges.

      • aml25

        Again, yuppie…

  • John Ingram

    This is yet another example of “Portlandia”! We so often impose our own limitations.

    I use Uber while traveling in other cities. They are reliable, cost competitive and pleasant.

    Do you remember your economics classes around supply and demand?

  • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    Gotta love how Corey Owens mischaracterizes the 60 minute rule. He says “it forces drivers to charge higher rates to make up for the hour-long wait.” implying that the rule requires drivers to wait during that hour: “What if that same driver could complete 30 trips a day at $15 a trip?”

    Bull. When I go to a restaurant and there’s an hour wait, it’s because they’re serving someone else during that time. They’re not doing nothing while I wait. If the only way Uber can deal with this rule is to make drivers sit around waiting an hour then they’re incompetent.

    The rule simply separates on-demand car services (taxis) from reserve-in-advance services (limo/executive car services) and has different rules for them. Taxis can and must pick up passengers that hail them on the street, must charge standard metered rates and must accept cash for payment. Executive car services must have advance reservations, charge fixed rates and don’t have to take cash. Uber’s not willing to follow either set of rules. Instead, they want to change the rules to give them a government-enforced competitive advantage.

    • iconoclast

      Yes, because removing a rule clearly intended to protect the tiny taxi service is giving Uber a government-enforced competitive advantage.

      It just doesn’t get dumber than that.

      • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

        Yes, it would be dumb to remove that rule just for Uber and leave the rules in place for the other players. If you can’t see that would be a government-enforced competitive advantage, then I can’t help you get less dumb.

        What about just getting rid of all the rules? Maybe that’s a good idea; maybe it sucks. We should carefully consider if we can change the rules to encourage more innovation and competition without causing more harm than good.

        It’s dumb to destabilize the market on the whim of one company that doesn’t think rules apply to them. They know what they’re doing is illegal in many places yet they’re doing it anyway.

        I notice you ignored the details I raised: Uber doesn’t accept cash. Taxis are required to. Is Uber willing to change, do we change the rules for taxis or do we give Uber an unfair advantage? What would happen if taxis stopped taking cash? Who cares! People who don’t have credit cards aren’t important.

        • That Guy

          Uber doesn’t take cash because it’s part of their cream-skimming mode of operation. Roughly 25% of Americans are “unbanked,” and lack credit cards or debit cards. Yet, the poor are more likely to use taxis because they can’t afford to own a car.

          So what does Uber do? They red-line out the poor. Wouldn’t want the underclass smelling up the cabs, or taking short rides. Let’s leave the poor people to the taxicabs that take cash.

          Typical urban yuppies.

          • aml25

            And how many of those 25% “unbanked” (please provide a source) live in cities? Uber is a city service. You see Square at all the shops in downtown Portland? Yuppie too? Go back to your ranch on a farm and leave the city-folk alone to continue to modernize the world.

            Again, go away please.

  • Zack Smith

    Let the market decide. These regulations are nothing more than cronyism.

    • MichaelTompson

      Your bank account is regulated, Do you want that “unregulated” too? There are good reasons that in many big cities all over the world, independently of each other, and over time, public
      transportation became regulated. It’s not cronyism.
      The Google-Uber duo in action over the net is what real ultra-rich cronyism is, by definition.

      • moburke

        haha when banking crashes it’s ‘unregulated capitalism run amok’!!!

        but the truth of it is, banking is as regulated as it gets, and the perfect example of why YES i would like my bank unregulated. i can do arithmetic, and i can decide between options and risks. regulation hasn’t meant that no one loses money.

        and by the way, you could have unregulated and regulated options side by side. maybe you’d really choose the ‘FDIC APPROVED’ option. but why force everyone to make the same choice as you? why is one-size-fits-all the default in your mind?

  • iconoclast

    Not enough opportunities for graft if the regulations are lifted. That is the real reason.

    • moburke

      exactly. that, and the fact that the mentally challenged don’t understand that the inverse of ‘gouging’ is shortages when people need a ride most.

      they think they’re advocating ‘fair pricing’. the reality their actions promote is longer waits, fewer rides available, and more drunk driving. they hide behind their ignorance and intentions but that’s the nature of it.

  • MichaelTompson

    This is precisely what Uber does – Paid online promotion in full force right here
    in your face. Yet, all important points are put under the rug, yet again – avoidance
    of regulation, avoidance of fees, avoidance of local taxation (that feeds your local community, and not some globalized self-glorified Titanic), ignoring the fact that there are
    HUNDREDS of apps that allow one to “call” a ride and that Uber is not unique,
    misunderstanding that your local transportation permits are sold by your local
    municipalities and that, again, feeds your local pensions and your local development plans. These facts are surely ignored – regulated hard-working drivers are
    demonized while Uber hobby-drivers that may charge over $500 per ride (yes,
    that actually does happen so don’t fall asleep) are again made all “social” and
    “good”. You should not fall asleep in these cars also for other reasons, but you
    want find any info on that since cases are closed by all-powerful Uber attorneys,
    and because Google (Uber’s parent) filters those results out of their search.
    But please keep on dreaming that this new globalized Wal-mart is good for you….

  • New Uber Guy

    Great timing, I’ve been in Phily the last two days, right during the middle of the snow storm. The cab line at the airport was 50+ people deep. I called Uber and they had a car come within 7 mins.
    The driver was an EX-CABBIE. I started asking pointed questions. Bottom line- he “gets paid a little bit less but the customers are better and I feel SAFER.” That’s a direct quote.
    Of course who could use just one person’s take as a definitive perspective so I took Uber back to the airport today. The driver, also an EX-CABBIE, and a physician from Afghanistan who was waiting to take his boards, told me that he ‘loves Uber, and really likes the way it works, especially with my iPhone. Plus, our INSURANCE IS BETTER THAN MY OLD CAB COMPANYS.”
    Bottom line- not only are the passengers happier and apparently safer, but the drivers are too. Up yours cab companies.

  • CuriousOffice

    The fact is that Uber or similar services are going to be inevitable in every major city. Customers demand it and that’s all there is to it. Period. “Regulators” who are dragging their feet will not be able to stall indefinitely. Upset cabbies aren’t going to be able to stop it. People don’t like taxis where there are alternatives that offer more polite & professional drivers, cleaner cars, total visibility as to availability around pick up times, immediate accountability through effective ratings, no need to talk to “dispatch” via a phone call etc etc. The benefits to the consumer are obvious so let me congratulate Portland in advance. You are going to get your Uber or equivalent. Until then, hang in there. It’s coming.

    • ClaimsAdjuster

      More professional drivers? Oh, please. An UberX driver in Seattle made an illegal u-turn underneath the monorail track and then hit a police car.

      • CuriousOffice

        ClaimsAdjuster: As with all things in life, there are exceptions. While blue might be my favorite color, there are some blues I don’t like. What we’re talking about is called “the norm”. Even you have been in an accident in your life. Uber, Lyft etc aren’t growing like crazy because they do things worse than the existing taxi services. That wouldn’t make sense now would it? While there will be delays, city by city, taxis will be consumed by the services preferred by the customer. Because, after all, it’s our opinion that counts the most. Customers don’t care about incumbents losing business. That’s not our problem. To react, you need to provide a better service. And right now, the vast majority of people leaving comments like you are either cabbies or ex-cabbies or someone else with their hand in the cabbie cookie jar. What you might not know, however, is that the rest of the world already knows this.

        • ClaimsAdjuster

          Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are cutting corners by putting uninsured and unlicensed gypsy cabs on the street. That certainly gives them a competitive advantage.

          The vast majority of people making comments like yours are either Lyft/UberX/Sidecar drivers, Libertarians or someone with their hand in the “rideshare” pie. But not ex-UberX etc drivers. They are “ex” because their insurance was cancelled:


          • CuriousOffice

            I do have my hands in the ride-share pie. I’m called “a customer”. I’ve seen all your posts. All your comments. You’re peddling fear. Ride in an Uber and die type of BS. Is it lost on you that Uber customers know that far more passengers have been hit, killed or injured by taxi drivers? Far more taxi drivers involved in accidents? Our odds of getting hurt by an uninsured Uber driver are far less than the odds of driving our own car to work and getting hit and killed by an uninsured motorist. But that isn’t the point at all. Peddling fear as your strategy is simply not going to win out over innovation and a better customer experience. The rest of the details always work themselves out and they are going to be worked out. Get with the program. Uber isn’t going away. And it’s because users are willing to pay for a better transportation experience.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            “Our odds of getting hurt by an uninsured Uber driver are far less than the odds of driving our own car to work and getting hit and killed by an uninsured motorist.”

            So what. You actually think that this is a meaningful statement?

            The odds are considerably higher that you will be in an accident with an uninsured UberX car than an uninsured taxi. Why? Because the local regulatory authorities mandate that taxis have insurance while UberX/Lyft/Sidecar are thumbing their noses at the law.

            Sorry, there is nothing innovative about a gypsy cab operation.They have been around for a long time.

            You can call posts that detail the recent history of Lyft and UberX responsibility shirking “fear peddling” all you want but even cheerleaders like Forbes magazine have now realized there is good reason to be afraid.


            You are the one who needs to get with the program.
            The insurance fraud underlying these rideshare scams has been exposed. The CPUC and the Seattle City Council will mandate that the drivers for Lyft & clones obtain commercial insurance. If Portland lets them in, it will be with similar regulations.

          • CuriousOffice

            If a certain kind of insurance is mandated then customer demand (e.g. revenue) will allow for Uber and Lyft to accommodate local regulations accordingly without any material impact to their growth. It’s far more likely that Uber will be able to afford whatever insurance is required by the cities they operate in and maintain their ongoing growth than it is for Yellow cabs to innovate at a competitive rate. It’s really just the way it’s going to be. I don’t see this as being much of a debate although I do understand that upsetting incumbents in any market always comes with upsetting people. I’m sure Motorola didn’t like it when Apple decided to start making better cell phones but not liking something just isn’t enough. Naming calling & insults like referring to these valued services as “gypsy” etc really just weakens your position as it relates to the kind of customers who actually use these services. That might be something you want to think about. I’m sure you think you’re trying to help “your side” but I’m not sure you’re the right ambassador to take this on.

          • ClaimsAdjuster

            “If a certain kind of insurance is mandated then customer demand (e.g. revenue) will allow for Uber and Lyft to accommodate local regulations accordingly without any material impact to their growth.”

            If that were the case then why aren’t Lyft/Sidecar and UberX doing it now? After all they are facing big liabilities. The court that tries the fatality accident in San Francisco is not going to let Uber off the hook just because they float BS legal loopholes about being just an app or that their cab business is really just ridesharing.

            The reason that the TNCs do not make their drivers get the commercial insurance on their cars is because it is too expensive for the part timers they depend on. The TNCs would have difficulty recruiting if the drivers have to spend $4K per year on insurance for their car. Spending money on industrial insurance for on-the-job injuries, business and cab driver’s licenses, paying taxes instead of working under the table – this is all too much of a hassle for their drivers.

            “Gypsy cabs” is the common term for illegal taxi operations. You do know that Lyft/Sidecar and UberX are illegal in Portland and Seattle, don’t you?

            “Innovation”, “disruption” “donation”, “ridesharing” – you Lyft/UberX/Sidecar kool-aid drinkers are so steeped in hype and corporate double speak that your words are grating to anyone outside your cult. Keep your gratuitous advice about how to state your case to yourself.

  • Billy Michael

    Try Uber and get $20 of your First Ride!!!
    Its an Awesome Service!!

    Sign Up at: http://www.uber.com/invite/ubernew20off

    or use PROMO CODE ubernew20off
    Cheers :) :)

  • Billy Boston

    Traveler’s Choice Limousine
    1604 Spring Hill Road, Suite 430
    Vienna, VA 22108

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    Uberx, Lyft and Sidecar are cutting corners with public safety and calling it innovation.

    The reality is that for hire vehicles are on the road far more than private cars and have higher liabilties. Cab driving is one of the most dangerous occupations in the USA not only due to the risk of accidents but also from crime. Unless regulatory authorities mandate that for hire vehicles carry the expensive commercial liability and industrial compensation insurance, the cab operator nor the dispatch service(Uber) will not do it on their own.

    That the unregulated “rideshare” operations are cutting corners can be seen in the New Year’s eve fatality accident in San Francisco where an UberX driver ran over a family killing a six year old girl and hospitalizing the rest of the family.


    Uber’s response was “We can confirm that the driver in question was a partner of Uber and that we have deactivated his Uber account. The driver was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident.” Stripped of the corporate double talk this means “Uber is not paying for this accident because the driver did not have our fare in his vehicle at the time. Go try and collect from the judgement proof cab driver”.

    The rub is that the UberX driver was operating with non-commercial insurance on his vehicle which excludes coverage for a business operation. This means that his private insurance will deny any claims from this accident. Uber claims to have a proprietary insurance plan that kicks in when the driver accepts a fare on his smartphone and ends when the driver hits the dropoff button. But outside these two digital events, the insurance coverage is supposed to revert back to the driver’s plan which in this case and for most of these “rideshare” taxis means no coverage at all.

    Uber brags that it checks the driver’s insurance, driving record and criminal history. But it didn’t catch the fatality accident driver’s reckless driving conviction in Florida. It is also knew that this driver’s non-commercial policy did not cover his UberX business. This is gross negligence on Uber’s part. Hopefully a court will make Uber pay for this family’s losses.

    A week later a Lyft driver in San Francisco hit an elderly pedestrian. Again the Lyft vehicle was operating on private insurance. Lyft fired the driver. Not that it made any difference because the driver’s insurance company cancelled the vehicle’s policy and denied the claim. Lyft draws the line at driving with no insurance but invalid insurance is ok.

    – See more at: http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/01/beneath-pink-mustache#comment-4954

  • The DUCK

    So I may be late to the party here but there is an AP called taxi magic that allows customers to order and track, even send messages to there cab that has taken their order. Radio cab has its own ap. Check Google play or the apple store to get these. The difference is those drivers are insured and background checked…. oh and the meter rate never changes! Uber has great tech….. that taxi magic has matched. Uber is a bully with money. Interesting they chose one of hitters favorite words for their name!

  • Craig Bladow

    Kathleen Butler is corrupt and continues to discriminate against companies operating in Interstate commerce also,She needs to lose her job ASAP,the federal government will get her soon,we should all hope.

  • Craig Bladow

    Kathleen Butler changes the city of PDX regulations constantly,and few of her new rules are ever legal.She needs to leave this city.Always trying to put the small biz ,out of biz.Been legally operating a limo company since 1996,and she is constantly trying to stop my Interstate commerce transportation.When will her corruption stop? The small biz can only hope soon

  • merc

    This is such a commie move! Even by Portland standards.Totally against free market. Very 3rd world of PDX to protect the intersts of a few in detriment of the consumer, the general population and free market. Great to be held hostage by a few taxi companies, that provide a terrible service are never there when you need them and overcharge.

  • merc

    Guys, try SIDECAR. Its a peer to peer drive sharing app. It doesn’t get more local than that! Hopefully we can put a few Taxi companies out of business… :)

  • Esther Rmah LaVielle


  • http://Facebook.com/justus.aguy Just Aguy

    A Must Watch NBC UberX Expose

    This ONE screenshot says ALL that needs to be said about the #Ride-sharing #Insurance charade! http://t.co/4Edsw5xlCI

    A Peek Inside the UberWONDERFUL World of #Ride-sharing http://t.co/Y7TZDcOxZo

  • Lucybird

    Portland! You’re so good in so many ways but this is a mega fail, it would change my life if you had uber.

  • Cut the crazed rhetoric

    Until the uber people decide to grow up and stop accusing those who disagree with them of cronyism and corruption, I’m taking the city’s side on this

  • Deshawn K

    This is what happens when a bunch of ignorant socialists run city hall.

  • Gamangi Z

    The last time i called a taxi they told me 1 hr (holy crap) then after an hr and half i called back and they told me because i was in vancouver it takes longer to get a cab because they come from pdx (5 min away) i ended up calling a friend to come get us and take us to the airport. any argument that portland taxis provide a service is dumb, i have been to many cities with great taxi service who are clearly confident in their service to accept competition, but it looks like if you have a crap business and can block any new comers then that is a good way to protect your status quo.

  • Bredman

    Uber regulations is what we need here.

  • Bredman

    I’m an Uber driver and I live in Vancouver, I spend a lot of time in the nearby parking lot at Ikea (close to PDX) and I clear $8,000 per month working 50 hrs a week. Love those meatballs Ikea!

  • Bimrin

    I used Uber while down in San Francisco this last weekend and while I like the service, I immediately wondered why it wasn’t available in Portland. During my last Uber use in San Fran I asked the driver some questions about how he made sure to get fares and how often he did it and about the insurance.

    While I still like the service I know understand why its banned in Portland and completely support the idea of putting some protections and regulations around it.
    I found that the driver has the ability to decide if they want to take the person, and that could lead to a lot of discrimination based events, My driver in particular did this as a second job. There is nothing to regulate that these drivers are safe to drive if they have been working another job for 8-10 hours already (though I am not sure if this is the same for taxi drivers as well). The driver was insured on his personal insurance, and I know many personal insurance policies have very strict and limiting coverage if you are injured as a passenger in a car.

    I will say I never felt unsafe traveling in the Uber’s I used in SF, but looking back on it I can see times where the drivers made unsafe lane switches, or was speeding. While this happens all the time when I take Taxi’s I also know that Taxi Drivers are commercial drivers and there is the taxi company itself has insurance that will cover me in case of an accident/injury.

    Again I love the idea of Uber, I do think it needs to have some kind of regulation. Think of the random drivers you see that annoy you or cause you road-rage, and then imagine that you could potentially be driven around by one of those people.

  • Leslie Palmer

    We need competition for cabs. Aren’t we a democracy????

  • Scout

    I went in front of Portland’s Private For-hire Transportation Board. I met all their requirements, paid the application fee, and was still denied permits to operate in the City of Portland. Our rules are not the problem, it’s the self serving.Board members who are mainly affiliated with Portland Taxi Companies.

  • Farty Fartsalot

    Portland is a such hipster-ass joke of a city…


    Re: Uber in Oregon. I looked into this and potential drivers should be aware that a person’s personal insurance coverage may not cover a person while the app is on and they are waiting for/going to a fare. Uber does not cover you until the person is in the car and the ‘meter’ is running. Please see excerpt from email I requested from my insurance company below.

    Oregon’s mandatory insurance law ORS 806.010 requires every driver to insure their vehicle. So these folks would be breaking the law essentially and putting their financial welfare in danger.

    “Currently, a member who uses their vehicle to transport passengers for a fee/profit (ride sharing), or who offers their vehicle for rental (car sharing*), does not have coverage under the personal auto policy. Exception: Personal automobile insurance will cover the driver while using his or her vehicle, the TNC s (transition network control) app is off (or not available to provide rides) and there are no paying passengers in the vehicle. It is important that the member clearly understands the insurance risks associated with car or ride sharing. If you should happen to get a member inquiry involving car or ride sharing, educate the member regarding the gaps that exist in coverage.
    Due to personal automobile insurance policy exclusions, transportation network companies (TNC s) generally provide commercial coverage from the time the driver accepts a trip on their smart phone and for the duration of the trip.
    A gap in coverage exists between the personal automobile insurance policy and the commercial insurance policy provided by the TNC s when the app is on and the driver is available but has not been matched with a fare.
    TNC s only provide excess coverage when triggered by a personal automobile insurance policy denial.
    So in the event of Uber, during the times it is being used as an Uber vehicle, coverage would need to be provided by Uber. The company should have a commercial policy, but you would need to inquire about its details and how their process would work in the event of an accident. Uber may have an app they have you download to incur the time you are “on” as one of their associates or employees, that should take the place of the TNC.

    Your personal automobile insurance would be in effect for using it during your own time when you were running personal errands or your day to day drive to work, etc. Those limits are set at 300/500 thousand for BI and 50 thousand for PD. In the event it was decided that an accident occurred during uber use, we would have the ability to deny the claim.

  • rjb

    What is the background check of the Uber drivers, rapist…?what a perfect opportunity.

  • John Kirkpatrick

    Use promotional code UBER20DOLLARS4FREE for a free $20 credit for rides

  • ronpal

    i’m getting just a bit fed up the political corruption that surrounds taxi companies. —– back when i lived in los angeles, this was especially annoying. —– on the border of one taxi district, if you wanted a taxi, you had the choice of walking a block or 2 and getting one immediately, or calling the company for your district, and potentially waiting a 1/2 hour or longer. —— and it has already been proven that Uber provides $1 million in insurance coverage, compared to the $500,000 of the existing taxi companies.

  • Mike_Scarborough

    Portland, OR has one of the most anti-business governments in the country, and when a progressive Democrat like me can recognize that, they have a serious problem. It will take a miracle to get the unemployment rate there down to anywhere near 5%, and I can promise you Portland’s City Hall could care less.

  • Anton Kartmann

    Guess what? Uber is coming to Portland for sure this April! Be afraid, snobby entitled Radio Cab hiptards! Be VERY AFRAID!!!!!!

  • Mustafa Hamsho

    Portland, the city of liberals who feign to be “progressive”, remain in the Dark Ages with their antiquated legislation and good-ol-boy taxi network. Savvy, libs. Really savvy.

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