- Mark Markovich
As we noted this morning, the road is clear for Uber and Lyft to legally launch in Portland, but a lot still needs to occur before that happens.
But maybe those seemingly big hurdles—obtaining insurance, hammering out a data sharing deal with the city, vetting drivers and making certain they've got valid business licenses, and waiting on the Portland Bureau of Transportation to formalize rules—aren't so imposing after all. Lyft is announcing it's launching Friday.
Communications staffers from the company are reaching out to media organizations, putting an official launch at 2 pm Friday, and offering interviews with company spokespeople (!).
"Lyft’s initial group of local Portland drivers include a pediatric nurse, a retired police officer, a pastry chef, a Zumba instructor, a tour guide, and a pre-med student, along with many more," the release says.
This, by the way, will be the first time Lyft has taken to Portland streets. The company didn't share Uber's lawbreaking urgency, a fact that won it a measure of goodwill from skeptical city officials like Commissioner Nick Fish.
A PBOT spokesman said this morning a timeline was uncertain. It seems plenty certain to at least one of the TNCs that just won a 120-day stint in Portland last night. PBOT hasn't returned a message about this announcement.
No word yet from Uber.
Update, 2:39 pm: PBOT says it won't comment on Lyft's announcement.
"For companies to operate legally in the city's pilot program, they have to apply for and be issued a permit," says spokesman Dylan Rivera.
Uber responded too, if their saccharine non-answer to a simple inquiry can be called that. I'm only including it to give you a sense of how the company answers questions:
"Uber is transforming the way people move around cities, and we are proud that Portlanders can now use ridesharing to connect citizens to the people and places they love. We look forward to being a part of the fabric of the community and to bringing more choice to drivers and riders who call Portland home."
Update, 3:42 pm: Josh Alpert, who's run point on the Uber question for Mayor Charlie Hales, confirms that Lyft's timeline is realistic.
"Our staff has contemplated a timeline so that there wouldn't be a long lag time between a vote and providing the public with more transportation options," he says.