Multnomah County Circuit Judge Judith H. Matarazzo ruled Friday in favor of Uber and Lyft in their quest to keep secret data that The Oregonian sought in a public records request.
Next week, a judge in Seattle is expected to issue a ruling in a similar case involving public records and the ride-hailing companies in King County.
Will a Washington judge side with the ride-share juggernauts? It's hard to say. But last year Uber and Lyft lost a King County court battle over whether they could keep secret their number of drivers. (There were more than 9,200 combined, The Seattle Times reported.)
And unlike in Portland, where city officials stayed neutral in The Oregonian's case against Uber and Lyft, attorneys working for the city of Seattle are siding with the public to ask the court to release the companies' information.
In Portland, Judge Matarazzo broke with Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, who in September ordered the city of Portland to turn over records that showed the number of rides provided by Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies since May 1, 2015; how many wheelchair-accessible vehicle services Uber and Lyft provided, canceled and completed by month; and average monthly wait times for UberWAV, the wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Uber and Lyft shared that data with regulators at the Portland Bureau of Transportation but claimed the information constituted trade secrets that were protected from release under an exemption to Oregon public records law.
Underhill argued that public interest in the information—which could show how well Uber and Lyft accommodated passengers with disabilities, for example—outweighed the companies' interests in secrecy.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the King County court case stems from a public records request by an Austin, Texas man. He's seeking information on where rides began and ended in 2015.
Last week's ruling in Portland has an unusual side effect. It means a recent city of Portland audit of transportation networks that Auditor Mary Hull Caballero published with redactions won't be unredacted to show how many rides Uber and Lyft reported in 2016. Uber has previously claimed to have had 4,000 drivers in Portland.