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Photo via Flickr user Stuart Seeger.
Photo via Flickr user Stuart Seeger.

Uber and Lyft will now operate under permanent transportation laws in Portland.

The Portland City Council today voted 3-2 to approve new regulations for transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, which have been operating in the Rose City under temporary laws for the past six months.

uberportland333You can view the regulations here, which require TNCs to provide trip data to the city, conduct background checks on drivers, and offer minimum levels of insurance, among other mandates. There are also no longer fare restrictions and driver caps for taxi companies.

“Ride-sharing has a permanent home in Portland, and we couldn’t be more thrilled on behalf of the thousands of riders and drivers who depend on safe, reliable rides,” Uber Portland GM Bryce Bennett said in a statement. “Our thanks go out to the many Portland citizens and the City Council who made ride-sharing a reality.”

“We want to thank the City Council for listening to the thousands of consumers, drivers, business and community leaders who spoke up in support of ridesharing during this inclusive process,” Lyft said in a statement. “The city’s pilot program demonstrated that consumers benefit from Lyft and the Council’s approval guarantees Portland residents and visitors a safe, affordable way to get around the Rose City. We’re excited to see Lyft Portland continue to grow and thrive.”

The Oregonian has details on some pushback from councilmembers Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish today in regard to the regulations, with Fritz wanting companies like Uber and Lyft to carry the same amount of insurance coverage required of taxis. It also notes how Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick — who voted to approve the new laws today, along with Dan Saltzman — violated city rules last year after not publicly reporting a meeting with a lobbyist representing Uber.

You can watch the final statements today from each councilmember at this link.

Some aren’t too thrilled with the new regulations. Radio Cab General Manager Steve Entler, who wrote an op-ed in the Portland Tribune on Tuesday, said that city lawmakers “rolled over” for Uber.

“A $50 billion company evidently holds more sway than elected officials,” he told GeekWire.

Wednesday’s vote ends 12 months of back-and-forth between Portland’s lawmakers and Uber, which tried negotiating with city officials for nearly two years before launching its service without regulation this past December, much to the disdain of Mayor Hales and other city leaders.

The city followed by launching a sting operation against the company’s drivers, issuing a cease-and-desist order, and eventually filing a lawsuit against Uber for conducting business without the proper permits.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and former Uber Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy David Plouffe spoke in Portland, Ore. earlier this year in May.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and former Uber Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy David Plouffe spoke in Portland, Ore. earlier this year in May.

The two sides soon later cut a deal, with Uber agreeing to suspend operations in Portland for three months to give regulators time to develop new taxi regulations.

The city then organized a task force and held several meetings to iron out revised rules for both existing taxi companies and new entrants like Uber and Lyft. A pilot program launched this past May, and a recent study showed how by the end of August, Uber and Lyft had 60 percent of the for-hire market share in Portland.

The study also found that having TNCs as a transportation option also encouraged more people to ditch their own cars. Between May and August, overall for-hire ridership in Portland increased by 40 percent with more than 1 million trips provided.

Speaking in Portland in May, former Uber Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy David Plouffe — who remains at the company as a board member and advisor — said that Uber helps fill an unmet need in Portland’s transportation system, particularly for people whose only option to get around was to drive their own vehicle.

“What Uber and services like it have provided is an equality of transportation,” he said. “No matter where you live in the city, you can press a button.”

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