Albany taxi companies say they’re not happy about the city’s decision to let taxi regulations lapse.
It is difficult to remember life before Uber. During my summer in D.C., it was a godsend. It saved me from constant subway delays and closures, public transit deserts, monsoon rains and late-night excursions. It became something I could not imagine living without. Then I returned to Eugene.
Since 2015, the ride-sharing service has been ousted from Eugene for failing to meet local taxi regulations, putting commuters at the mercy of public transit and a handful of taxi companies. But that could soon change. The Eugene City Council opened an opportunity for the company’s return by scheduling a work session this month to discuss changes to the city code to adapt Eugene to the new sharing economy. There has been speculation since 2016 about bringing it back, but now is the time for the city council to stop dragging its feet.
It is time to bring Uber back.
In a mid-sized college town with limited public transportation options, Uber provides an opportunity for students and community members to take full advantage of what Eugene has to offer and create new job opportunities.
Ride-sharing companies can be more convenient, safer and potentially lifesaving for a college town populated with students. The college culture of binge drinking puts people at risk for drinking and driving or not being able to return home safely. Although the University of Oregon provides two free ride programs, Safe Ride and the Designated Driver Shuttle, these programs and their taxi counterparts are plagued with long wait times, and public transportation is also limited as the bus system stops operating at midnight. But scheduling a ride can be difficult if someone has already had one too many drinks. On-demand rides from Uber can prevent this while alleviating overburdened services that already exist.
Reintroducing Uber to Eugene could also provide new job opportunities for students and other community members who have struggled to find employment. Students often accommodate their class schedules to fit their job schedule, sacrificing their education for a paycheck. Uber offers a self-employment alternative, which expands total employment in cities and increases hourly wages for self-employed drivers.
However, there has been some pushback from taxi companies. Threatened from the innovation that ride-sharing apps brought to an industry that has not changed for decades, taxi companies around the nation have engaged in rent seeking to protect themselves and their profits from increased competition. But some companies followed Uber’s steps by introducing their own ride-sharing apps. Local companies should be encouraged to do the same and adapt to the new sharing economy rather than be shielded from its effects.
Although Uber does bring numerous benefits to the cities it operates in, it does have some problems.
Despite these problems, changing the city code to allow similar companies with better business practices to operate in Eugene, such as Lyft, will ultimately benefit the community. It is time for the city council to read the writing on the wall — the sharing economy is here, and it is time for Eugene to join it.
The city of Eugene argues it has health and safety concerns over Uber operating without a license, which is the reason for these steep fines.
But, Uber says it is just an app, not a taxi company and that the city’s code is unconstitutional. Uber argues it requires background checks for drivers, has insurance policies when passengers are in cars and requires its own vehicle inspections.
Uber says fines shouldn’t be $2,000 a day because it has all those requirements for drivers.
Uber also argued a subsidiary, Rasier, is responsible for paying drivers, not Uber.
But, the city disagrees, saying Uber is the company name passengers agree to use on the terms of condition, and Rasier’s name isn’t listed anywhere.
The city says Uber’s fines will stop accumulating each day if the rideshare app stops operating in Eugene or gets a license to operate.
Since the city changed its code, Uber has $68,000 worth of fines as of Tuesday.
The hearing’s official has ten days to make a decision from this hearing.
EUGENE, Ore.– The city of Eugene may consider shutting the ride share app, Uber down if it doesn’t reach an agreement. The city says since September it has done everything it can to work with Uber, including changing city code and loosening up on its requirements.
The city says the only thing standing in the way of Uber from operating legally is the certification and license that requires background checks through the Justice System. The city also requires minimum insurance and vehicle checks to make sure cars have basic safety equipment. Uber argues the requirements do not fit their business model, and insists using its own background check system. The city says it’s not willing to budge on it’s safety standards.
“We’re not trying to apply taxi rules to uber. We’ve been willing to update the code, to allow smartphone applications and we’ve been willing to update the rules. But we can’t compromise on community safety and that’s the most important thing right now,” said Communication and Policy Analyst Laura Hammond.
Uber has made agreements to operate in other cities recently. The company says they have not had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Kitty Piercy to hammer out a deal in Eugene. Earlier this week, Uber launched a petition which has nearly 2,000 signatures.
Despite the ongoing dispute, Uber continues to operate illegally in Eugene and Springfield and have racked up $116,000 in fines. The city also says it continues to receive many complaints about Uber, but have not cited an drivers.
The updated code requires any company that connects passengers on a digital platform to obtain the same license that a taxi company does.
Uber says the rules jeopardize their ability to operate citywide, and they’re asking people to sign a petition for the mayor and city council.
It’s called #EugeneNeedsUber. So far, there are around 200 signatures.
The new code will require companies like Uber, an app-based ride sharing company to obtain a license in order continue services in Eugene.
Before that vote, city councilors had a number of questions and concerns about compliance and enforcement of the law, accrued fines as well as how the law will apply to Uber.
The city of Eugene and Uber have gone back and forth over the last several months over whether the company should be required to obtain a public passenger vehicle license.
Uber’s argument: it’s not a public passenger vehicle company, like a taxi service, and therefore they shouldn’t be required to get a license.
But Monday night all councilors voted to update city code, requiring any companies that connect passengers on a digital platform to be required to get the same type of license that a taxi company would.
“They make a promise and then sometimes don’t deliver. And don’t keep their word and their agreement about how they want to work with us,” said Mike Clark, Eugene City Councilor.
A main concern before the vote was enforcement of the law.
But Eugene residents say there’s been too much focus on fines, and less about the people using the service
“As a person totally dependent on public transportation, seniors and the like, we want all the options that we can get. And I happen to be in favor of new innovative approaches to any business,” said Dave Reed, Eugene resident.
But the new way of getting around town could be at risk as Uber released a statement Monday night saying: “Today’s City Council vote puts the livelihood of hundreds of residents at risk while ignoring the voice of Eugene residents who already rely on Uber to connect them to safe, affordable, and reliable rides around their community.”
Uber also said it’s hoping the city will develop regulations that better fit the new technology.
Uber has racked up $116,000 in fines from the city of Eugene.
It’s still expected to pay those fines.
The ordinance is effective immediately.
Uber is facing more than $100,000 in fines for operating without a license.
Current city code asks companies like Uber to obtain a public passenger vehicle license, but the app is refusing to do so, saying the city should create a separate code just for it.
City councilors say they’re set to take action on proposed changes to the code at Monday night’s meeting.
It starts at 7:30 p.m. in Harris Hall.
EUGENE, Ore. — An appeal hearing concerning ride-sharing app Uber has been postponed.
Jan Bohman, Community Relations Director for the City of Eugene, says the hearing will take place at a later date. It was originally planned for Monday morning.
Uber is appealing fines of nearly $200,000 for operating without a license.
Current city code asks companies like Uber to obtain a public passenger vehicle license, but the app is refusing to do so. Representatives say the city should create a separate code for them.
The new date has yet to be determined.
EUGENE, Ore. — A long running dispute between Eugene and the ride share app Uber will take center stage at a public hearing on Tuesday. The city says Uber has been operating illegally and is proposing a code change to make that clear.
The change will explicitly apply to businesses like Uber, spelling out that it must obtain licenses in order to operate in Eugene and Springfield. Leading up to Tuesday’s public hearing, the city has been fining the app $2,000 a day, amounting to more than $100,000. Uber argues it doesn’t need to follow the city’s rules like other cab businesses because it doesn’t employ their drivers and do not provide vehicles for them. Residents say they hope there’s a resolution soon because they want to see Uber grow in Eugene.
“I would like to see them come to an agreement so we can have Uber. It seems like it would be a convenient opportunity for all the students to have,” said Jet Meitzner.
Kyle McCrate adds, “The more transportation options we have I think the better. We have a good transportation system in Eugene right now, and I think Uber would just add to that.”
The public is invited to weigh in on the proposed changes. The public hearing is on Tuesday at Harris Hall at 7:30 p.m. Harris Hall is in the Public Service Building/Courthouse at 125 East 8th Ave.