PORTLAND – An app that connects people needing a ride with town cars wants to come to Portland, but it says city regulations are creating a road block.
The Uber mobile app allows users to request a private driver through their smart phones. Drivers sign up and through the app, they can connect with riders almost immediately.
Uber is available in 35 cities worldwide, but Portland’s city regulations on town car booking make it difficult for the service to be on-demand.
Currently, the city mandates that town car customers have to wait at least an hour after making a reservation before being picked up, even if a car is available sooner.
“Uber doesn’t need to apply to do business here,” said Andrew Noyes, spokesman for the Uber app. “What we need is the Portland city code to be updated to allow us to operate here.”
Changing the city regulations would make town cars essentially the same as cabs. But Portland cabs are subject to different regulations regarding vehicle and meter inspections, driver background checks and liability insurance.
“It’s important to figure out how to work within the framework of current permitted companies and we would want to involve them in this conversation,” said Kathleen Butler, Regulatory Division Manager for the City of Portland.
Uber has also been criticized for “surge” pricing, which raises rates during high-volume periods. Uber says that increased pricing helps supply and demand.