Want the lowdown on how Uber and Lyft will operate in Portland? Listen to reporter Amelia Templeton and All Things Considered host Kate Davidson discuss insurance, access for customers with disabilities, and more.
Clarification: The audio version of this story contains a misstatement. Uber and Lyft are allowed to drop passengers off at Portland International Airport. However, according to a spokeswoman at the Port of Portland, the companies aren’t currently allowed to pick passengers up from the airport. That requires an additional permit.
Portlanders looking for a ride after work or a night out are about to have a lot more options.
App-based ride services Uber and Lyft both will launch at 2 p.m. Friday in Portland, nearly two years after Uber first announced its plans to move into the Rose City back in July 2013.
For 120 days, the two companies will be allowed back in the city after their drivers clear background checks, get business licenses and car inspections, the Portland City Council decided Tuesday.
Riders can download the Uber and Lyft apps on their smartphones to hail rides and pay their tabs. Drivers on the clock will be insured for $50,000 per person for death and injury, and drivers en route to pick up a passenger or who have a passenger in their car must be insured for $1 million per accident.
Existing taxi companies will no longer have a cap on the number of drivers they can hire and will be able to set their own fares. Previously, taxi drivers couldn’t charge more than $2.06 a mile. The change will allow Uber’s surge pricing, which happens when demand is high for the company’s drivers.
During the four-month pilot program, the city will collect data on wait time and ride requests to determine what changes should be made to Portland’s current for-hire transportation laws. But nothing is guaranteed; city commissioners could still kick the companies out following the trial period.
Commissioners were divided on the measure to greenlight the for-hire free-for-all — the vote was 3-2 — but they were united in their dislike of Uber.
Uber started picking up customers for two weeks in December in violation of city laws, but agreed to suspend services for three months while the commissioners created new rules for non-taxi services. The ride-finding company reports that while temporarily operating, Portlanders took more than 10,000 rides.
Currently, Uber drivers are operating in Salem and several Portland suburbs, including Vancouver, Washington. The company pulled out of Eugene after the city announced that Uber is in violation of city code.