Portland Drives Uber Out For Three Months, Or Until Portland Can Figure Out A Better Plan
After a tense back-and-forth between the ride-sharing company and city officials, beginning Monday, Portland will suspend Uber operations for three months after both parties struck a deal that would see Uber halt its local services temporarily while the West Coast city revises its regulations around taxis that currently ban ride-sharing apps.
A statement by the controversial company noted that its services will start back up in Portland on April 9, whether or not city officials have come up with new regulations. Since Uber announced that it would begin operations in the city, it has clashed repeatedly with Portland officials.
This agreement comes weeks after Uber began operating illegally, despite stringent objections by local officials — ultimately resulting in the city suing Uber Technologies in attempt to stop its services in the city. The lawsuit saw Portland accuse the company of providing illegal and unregulated transportation services. Earlier this month, the city's mayor, Charlie Hales, penned an Op-Ed in The Oregonian calling out Uber for disregarding public safety. Hales wrote:
Uber chose to say, "Never mind." The company said "no" to your safety. It said "no" to inclusion and "no" to helping us work with our immigrant cab drivers, who may be laid off as a result of this new technology. Instead they chose to ignore our laws and, in doing so, have proved their disdain for our city.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, however, the mayor's tone was considerably gentler as he articulated the desire for new regulations that would take into account ride-sharing companies like Uber, adding:
I believe that we should find a way for Uber to operate legally here. It’s a valid part of the new sharing economy that Portland embraces.
A task force has been set up to "study, discuss and make recommendations" for the city's private for-hire system, which includes taxis, transportation network companies, limousines, pedicabs and shuttle services. Chaired by Mike Greenfield, former director of Administrative Services for the State of Oregon, the committee will have its first meeting on Jan. 14, the press release from the mayor's office detailed.
Uber has made headlines in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons — from its ruthless company tactics to allegations of sexual assault in Delhi, price gouging in Sydney, Australia, during a hostage situation, to complaints of the lack of screening when hiring drivers, the ride-sharing company has had its fair share of setbacks and vocal critics. Already, Uber has been banned in several countries, and considering the amount of bad PR it has received as of late, its clashes with various cities could prove too much for the company.
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