After weeks of jam-packed hearings—and complaints by Portland cabbies about basic unfairness in the proposed rules—city commissioners could well vote on more than 150 pages of amendments to city law, firmly ensconcing so-called "transportation network companies" (TNCs) into the city's fabric, and formally deregulating the amount of cabs and Ubers that can flood Portland streets, along with how much they can charge. (More on the proposal here).
One section of the new regulations city council will hold off on? Unexpected changes to modes of for-hire transport other than cabs and TNCs—changes that alarmed and angered people who pilot pedicabs and take medicare patients to doctor's appointments. It's not so much that those industries disagree with new regulations, they say, it's that they didn't expect them.
As we've reported, the city promised it was only looking to create rules for cabs and TNCs during this process—then it snuck in changes to what kinds of insurance pedicab drivers needed, stricter limits on traffic tickets for medical drivers, and other things.
"I'm very surprised to be here today," Ryan Hashagen, owner of Portland Pedicabs, told City Council during a hearing last week. "I urge you to stick with the original plan. We were told this was about TNCs and taxis."
Kirk Foster, owner of medical transportation firm Wapato Shores Transport, followed up, calling the new regulations "a copy and paste job" that didn't fit his industry.
Some councilmembers were concerned. Both commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz looked, for a moment, as though they might favor delaying the Uber regulations. But Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees PBOT, wanted to get the rules through.
The council arrived at an inelegant solution. When Portland finally passes new regulations tomorrow—if that is indeed what it does—it'll include a provision completely nullifying any changes to pedicabs, medical conveyances, and other non cab/TNC sectors "until such time other provisions" are adopted by city council.
The council also appears ready to pass an idea that Commissioner Dan Saltzman floated—opposed by Mayor Charlie Hales—that Uber and Lyft vehicles must somehow display their city-provided business license number when they pick up fares.
The code doesn't offer any specifics for how that could be done and, as Hales pointed out, it's sort of unnecessary for a service that shows you a picture of your driver, gives you their name, and tells you the make and model of their vehicle when you reserve a ride.
The idea spurred a spirited back-and-forth between Saltzman and Hales, which I wrote down in my notes as follows:
Saltzman: "What if someone's foot gets run over?"
Hales: "The car has a license plate."
Saltzman: "Your point's well-taken, but I want to know if it's an Uber vehicle."
Hales: "I don't care if it's an Uber vehicle if it runs over my foot. I wanna know who it was."
Saltzman's amendment passed 4-1.