PORTLAND-- After a heated debate at city hall on Wednesday, Mayor Sam Adams and the Portland City Council voted to offer more taxi permits, plus crack down on reported corruption in Portland's vehicle-for-hire business.
Cab drivers have been protesting for weeks. They took their frustration to a packed City Hall chambers on Wednesday, and many welcomed the outcome of the vote.
The city issued more than a hundred new taxi permits which also will allow the creation of a new driver-run taxi company. Many taxi cab drivers say they are paid less than minimum wage, but couldn't go to another company, until now.
"We know that the action the city took today was very wonderful. I hope it's going to change the cab industry," said Kedir Wako with the Portland Drivers Association.
The number of town cars has also ballooned in recent years because the city has not issued new cab permits since 1998. Town cars have flourished, taking thousands of rides away from cab companies.
The corruption crackdown will target payments to procure passengers paying for longer rides.
Taxi drivers have accused hotel doormen of taking kickbacks to steer customers to certain town car, taxi and shuttle drivers. Hotel valets are reportedly paid by these drivers to get the more profitable long-distance customers.
After the City Council vote, the city's regulatory division will be imposing at least $1,500 fines to both the driver and the doorman for kickbacks.
"It's not legal and tonight, we put tough fines in place and new inspectors and we're clamping down," said Mayor Sam Adams right after his yes vote.