The popular ride-sharing service, Uber, has set up shot in Portland, ignoring more regulations against them. Uber booted up operations in Portland Oregon on Friday despite their service being illegal as determined by the local government.
Transportation officials commented that Uber is operating illegally because it does not have the required inspections and permits. The city is prepared to take action against Uber and its drivers by issue penalties.
Steve Novick, who oversees the transportation department in Portland, commented on the situation, saying they want to make money, but without “playing by the same rules as existing cab companies.” He also commented that he hopes drivers and passengers understand that they will receive penalties because the ride-sharing service is illegal.
For a first offense, if a driver is caught illegally picking up a passenger, they could be fined up to $2250. The second offense would be possible jail time. Uber claims, however, that they would fight any ruling against a driver.
Novick also went on to say that Portland is not against reviewing and updating current taxi regulations. However, he believes that the San Francisco based company is operating as if they are “above the law.” If Portland does move to change the taxi laws, Novick would ideally like to ban the ride-sharing service from operating, although that may not legally be possible.
Uber spokesperson, Eva Behrend, released a statement saying that 27,000 residents had indicated a need for the ride-sharing service. She also commented that there were also 500 drivers waiting to start making money. Clearly, there is a need for a safe, friendly, ride-sharing service, according to Behrend.
Additionally, they announced on Thursday that it had come up with a new layer of funding, raising the value of the company to almost $40 billion. They plan to use the new funding for overseas expansion.
Uber is notorious for ignoring regulations, and Portland is just the latest to feel that impact. Recently, they tried to set up shop in Las Vegas until a judge got a “temporary injunction” that forced the ride-sharing service to back off until there was a formal hearing.
Uber allows a passenger to connect with a driver using a smartphone app, much like a passenger would call a taxi company in the past. The ride-sharing service has become increasingly popular since its beginning fiver years ago. They are currently operating in 250 cities and 50 countries. They have been battling regulations in most of those places.
In Portland, the new ride-sharing app launched at 5 pm on Friday, where there were hundreds of drivers ready start picking up passengers. In an effort to catch a driver violating the taxi laws by picking up customers illegally, Novick sent out people to try to get rides. The ride-sharing service was so busy there were no cars available.
Uber is ignoring more regulations, and Portland is the latest city to take a hit. The Portland Transportation department is open to negotiations about the current laws, but until they have a formal sit-down, Uber is considered to be operating illegally.
By Kerri Cushna
Photo by Michael Loke – Flickr License