Now's the time to start a cab company, because the Portland Bureau of Transportation's Private For-Hire Transportation Review Board—which used to pick and choose which fledgling cab companies got to play with the big boys—is accepting anything on wheels.

OK, that's a total exaggeration. There are still rules, and applicants have to meet minimum code requirements, but that's it.

At today's board hearing, all three cab companies seeking permission to get their drivers on the road—PDX Yellow Cab Drivers Association, Rainbow Cab Co., and United Independent Cab—got the go ahead from the board.

Apparently this wasn't always the case.

"It's a new game now, with new players and a new commission," said PBOT Program Manager Frank Dufay. "We're looking at things differently now, strictly going by the code, and the bar is lower, to be honest."

Aside from the drivers happy about their shiny new permits, no one at today's meeting was pleased with the current state of Portland's taxi industry, and the spectre of Uber and Lyft loomed large.

On Thursday, the city council will hear recommendations from PBOT's Private For-Hire Innovation Task Force on how rewrite code to allow ride-sharing companies to operate legally. Cabbies have consistently complained they were inadequately represented, and Darin Campbell—a Radio Cab driver and taxi board member—did what he could today to change that.

Campbell moved the board create a subcommittee that, during the next 120 days, will put together its own set of recommendations for city council to consider during the "pilot program" that starts when city council votes to enact the task force's plan. The motion passed.

Campbell also got a motion passed that allows cab companies to add regular vehicles to their fleets without first complying with city code requiring 20 percent of their cars to be wheelchair-accessible because there's apparently a "nationwide shortage" of specialty vehicles.

"Well, there certainly aren't a lot available, but I did some checking and there are some available," Dufay said. "They're not as high quality, but with the task force recommendations it's kind of a moot point."

The task force plans to recommend dropping that number from 20 to 10 percent for the pilot period, which went over like an Edsel with other cab companies at the meeting who claim they've already shelled out the cash to buy wheelchair-accessible vans as they become available.

"Just how far has the bar been lowered, Frank?" asked Raye Miles, president of Broadway Cab.