Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on July 19th, 2013 at 7:37 am
Uber, a California-based startup on a crusade to make taxis and towncars better, is the latest company lining up to serve low-car Portlanders.
Uber’s basic product, which it calls Uber Black, lets users book a nearby towncar using a smartphone, then electronically pay the driver and privately leave him or her a rating, without opening their wallets. In exchange, it costs about 30 percent more than a taxi, though fare-splitting is allowed.
But with this company, there’s a catch: as Uber’s employees will be the first to tell you, the basic service their company provides is currently illegal in Portland, due to the city’s complicated body of codes that regulate for-hire transportation. Those laws require taxis to accept any ride, however unprofitable. In exchange for that requirement, the city limits the supply of taxis and protects them from competition by requiring limos and towncars to book all rides at least 60 minutes in advance.
For Uber to launch in Portland, it’ll need to convince the city to change these laws. That’s where the hand-delivered ice cream comes in.
As part of a one-day national campaign on Friday, Uber’s iOS and Android mobile apps will be able to summon ice cream trucks instead of towncars. In Portland, ice cream deliveries will cost $20 for five servings.
Uber currently operates in 35 cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. In most of its U.S. cities, it’s faced entrenched opposition from the local taxi industry — and if KATU’s report on Tuesday is any indication, the story in Portland will be similar.