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Uber and Lyft finally legal in Portland

Transportation Network Companies get back in business in the Rose City Friday


JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Lexus owner Amy Hall can now operate legally in the Portland as well as the suburbs where she has been an UberX driver since January 2015. Uber and Lyft launched officially in Portland Friday at 2 pm.

The companies were given the all-clear to operate in the city, not just the surrounding suburbs where Uber has been operating without regulations for months. The Portland City Council voted 3-2 on Tuesday in favor of a 120-day trial period for rideshare or Transporation Network Companies, plus lifting the cap on taxi fares. It began on April 24.

Uber driver Amy Hall of Beaverton was invited to meet the media, along with sample customer Charles McGee, outside Milo’s Café on Northeast Broadway.

Hall said she started driving for Uber in the suburbs in January. She has a crotchet bag business which she plans to launch on craft e-tailer Etsy, and is driving for Uber on her own schedule rather than get a full time job. She has never considered being a cab driver.

“I’ve taken taxis in my life when I needed to, but it always feels creepy.”

Hall said she enjoyed the work and felt physically secure. “I don’t have that feeling at all, especially after all the people I have given rides to.” Her fiancé also has no fears for her safety. “He is super-supportive. I sometimes text him a picture of what my fee was, and say ‘Ka-ching!’ It’s just a fun way of saying hello.”

In testimony before the council, those opposing the pilot project suggested that amateur drivers may not be as good as professional cab drivers. Friday morning, Hall, who was driving a white Lexus SUV, had a close call with a cyclist. While waiting to give media members a spin around the block, she edged into the bike lane on Broadway causing a cyclist to severely swerve. He yelled in her window “YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!”

Hall says the app calculates her gross fare time income at $21 an hour. (Drivers get to keep 80% of the fare that passengers pay. Tips are optional.)

“The other day a mom saw my face and my car (on the app) and she pinged me. She sent me to pick up her daughter, who is 21, and take her to lunch at Bridgeport Mall. She wouldn’t have sent a taxi to do that.”

Uber spokesperson Kate Downen said all will drivers need to comply by the City’s new rules before being allowed on to the platform, meaning before they can activate the app in Portland and take passengers. They will send a screen shot of their business license to Uber, who will authenticate it. They also need to display it inside their car, along with a black “U” logo on the windshield.

UberX cars must maintain a high mechanical standard and be made in 2005 or after. UberX has a base fare of $1.50 plus 30 cents a minute or $1.50 a mile. It is a lower cost service than UberBlack, which is more like a big city towncar service.

Would she drive downtown on a Friday night? “I’m home with my family on weekends. But several other gals that I’ve met, yeah they love it. They think it’s a hoot.”

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