Uber, Lyft Given Final Approval To Stay In Portland After City Council Vote

What a difference a year makes: it’s been almost 12 months since Uber and officials in Portland, OR agreed to work on new rules together to allow the company to operate in the city, and now, those rules have finally been approved, giving ride-hailing services the go-ahead to do their thing.

The two sides got off to a bad start when Uber entered the Portland market in early December 2014 without so much as a “how do you do?” to the local government. Portland sued the service, before agreeing to talk it out and work on writing new regulations for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.

After three months of staying out of Portland, Uber and Lyft were allowed to ply their trade in the city on a temporary basis starting in April, while both sides came to terms over final regulations. Portland’s city council voted on the rules governing Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs on Wednesday, passing the regulations with a 3-2 vote, reports OregonLive.com.

The new rules allow ride-hailing companies to provide two tiers of insurance: less coverage when they’re signed into the app, and additional coverage coming into effect as soon as a driver connects with a passenger. Taxis are usually covered by insurance policies that have the same level of coverage regardless of whether a passenger is in the car.

It wasn’t smooth sailing during the voting process, however, with some council members speaking out against those who voted for the rules, saying they were letting Uber and Lyft off the hook in regards to insurance coverage.

“I am baffled as to why any of you would consider your own life or that of the person you love most in the world to max-out at 50 thousand dollars,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz, referring to the per-person coverage required for death and injury during the first period. She wanted the city to require Uber and Lyft to provide more coverage to drivers while they’re on-duty.

The insurance issue might not be over, noted Commissioner Novick, who said it’s still under consideration. He wants to ask state lawmakers to pass tougher statewide insurance regulations for TNCs.

“I don’t know that we’ve got the insurance issue quite right, and expect to take that up again in the coming months,” Novick told KGW.com (warning: autoplay video at that link). “If you’re going to pick a fight with a 50 billion dollar company with a history of being belligerent, you should look around for some allies.”

Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Dan Saltzman also voted for the new rules along with Novick, while Commissioner Nick Fish voted against them.

“I think there’s been an effort to level the playing field as much as possible between (ride-hailing companies) and taxi companies, and I think that’s a good direction to go in,” Saltzman said. “I look at this as a new reality.”

With narrow vote, Uber and Lyft secure their place in Portland [OregonLive.com]
Uber, Lyft will continue operating in Portland [KGW.com]