Portland Council’s Transportation Committee Requests Draft Ordinance to Regulate Uber
Members of the Portland City Council’s Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee held its final meeting of the year on Wednesday, December 17th. On the agenda was a discussion related to Uber, a smartphone taxi service application that connects riders with drivers.. The service has been operating in Portland since October.
Anyone with a car can sign up to be an Uber driver. As the Uber website puts it, “Got a car? Turn it into a money machine.” Drivers sign up to be on call when they are available. People use their smartphone to request a ride, and if a driver in the area is available, the rider gets picked up by the Uber driver in that driver’s personal vehicle.
Currently, the Uber service is not licensed nor subject to the City’s regulations and standards that protect passengers and drivers. Some of these standards include protocols for vehicle inspections, appropriate insurance, and background checks for drivers.
Other cities in other nations have begun to regulate the service.
Due to the lack of applicable ordinance provisions and regulations and some questions about Uber and its services, City staff brought the matter before the Committee in order to determine appropriate next steps. Potential options included, but were not limited to, whether or not to amend the city code to address these services, whether or not fees should be charged to Uber and/or individual drivers, and how to address Uber drivers at the Jetport.
At the conclusion of the discussion on Wednesday, the Committee directed the City’s Corporation Counsel to draft an ordinance that would apply regulations to Uber, and other services like it. Corporation Counsel hopes to have a draft to present to the Committee at its meeting in February. Once the matter is approved by the Committee, it would still need final review and approval from the entire Council before its adoption.