RE: "Developing Fantasies" [I, Anonymous, Dec 3], in which an anonymous author bemoans the hassles of living amid new housing developments, including affordability issues.
Warehouse full of bunk beds. Rent them [for] $100-300 a month. That would piss these landlords and contractors off at the same time as taking people off the streets, thereby further enraging them, as they now have nothing to bitch about as they shop for useless shit downtown. I'm all for density and all, but housing prices are being pulled up from one end and never down from the other.
RE: "Uber Brings Ride Sharing to Portland Without Permission; Novick Threatens Hefty Fines" [Blogtown, Dec 5], regarding the company's unsanctioned launch in Portland and the subsequent outcry from city officials and taxi companies.
I don't always support [Transportation Commissioner Steve] Novick, but I back him on this. They think they can roll us like they did Seattle? We'll see!
posted by Todd Mecklem
Uber is douchey, but the taxi cartel here has been taking advantage of Portlanders for years. It doesn't seem like it would be hard to craft regulation to solve all of the problems that Novick noted. Require commercial insurance, background checks of Uber drivers—seems reasonable. But the cap on the number of drivers is nuts. Imagine if the government capped the number of permits to be a hair stylist or doctor or nurse or whatever. It would suddenly get very expensive to get their services, and those who lucked into/pulled strings to get a hair stylist permit would be able to give horrible service and still get business. Unsurprisingly, that's exactly what's happened with Portland's taxi industry. Portland has a tiny number of cabs per thousand residents, and we pay high prices for it. But the service is really the worst thing. I refuse to take a cab to the airport anymore after being stood up twice. I'll take TriMet, which takes twice as long, because I have more faith that they'll actually show up.
posted by Alex Reed
This is a fight the city can't afford. Uber has lawyers prepping the arguments in every state. They'll make it a federal restraint of trade/interstate commerce case with a single ride to Vancouver, and the city won't be able to justify their current ordinances. They'll have terms of service in their app usage contract that will mean the city will end up paying them in the event of failed city enforcement actions or falsifications of ride agreements. And most importantly, any enforcement action will make Portlanders aware of the bizarre taxi [regulations] and the guild-like structure of the current taxi system. This city government can't manage to have cops hand out business cards without getting sued (and losing), much less regulate a new sharing-economy transportation industry.
posted by Number Six
I drove a cab over a 20-year period in Seattle and Portland, and served as Portland's taxi driver representative in 2011 and 2012. The facts are that there are 168 hours in a week and you should be able to get a taxi anywhere in Portland within 10 minutes during 150 of those hours. The exceptions occur during peak demand on Friday and Saturday nights and sometimes during rush hour. Unfortunately, the economics of the taxi industry mean that you can't establish a peak-demand fleet and expect it to operate profitably during those other 150 hours. Uber's presence will do nothing to alter this fundamental economic reality. And the fact that they are an out-of-state corporate behemoth assures that they have no interest in respecting the local Portland community.
posted by Red Diamond
Maybe if TriMet restored its late-night weekend service to somewhere closer to its former glory, this late-night weekend cab shortage might not be such an issue. I don't drink or own a car, but like to go to shows. If a show goes late, I generally end up grabbing a Car2Go wishing I could still take a bus home.
posted by Daniel Haberman
RE: "Catching Out" [Feature, Dec 3], an essay on train hopping by author Charles D'Ambrosio from his new collection, Loitering.
DEAR MERCURY—As a fellow subversive graphic designer, I really appreciated the choice of the font Hobo for the essay on train hopping. Give your designer a raise and/or hire me!
GOOD EYE, ZACH! You win this week's Mercury letter of the week, along with two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where you can hop on the beer 'n' pizza train. It may not be a job, but it tastes great!