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May 22nd, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Taxi Cab Confusion

What is the story behind Union Cab?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

What is this Union Cab company, with its splashy periwinkle and orange sherbet-colored cars? Can Union be trusted? And who gave it permission to operate here?

—Night Cabbie in SE

Your signature suggests you may have a dog in this fight, Cabbie—though I suppose it’s possible you’re taking poetic license, sort of like when I drop an “Order of the British Empire” between my name and my prisoner ID number.

Union Cab is a real company. Like Radio Cab, it’s run as a co-op, with drivers—many of whom are former affiliates of Broadway Cab—owning their own vehicles.

Since you asked, the permission to operate came last fall, when the Portland City Council created 78 new taxi permits for the Rose City, 50 of which went to Union. At the time, officials made the case that the increase in total cabs would meet a “significant unmet need” for more taxis.

As someone who drove a cab in Portland for the better part of a year (before I was caught in a compromising position with a cuscus in the Oregon Zoo parking lot), I admit, Cabbie, that I share a portion of your skepticism.

In my experience, the vast majority of folks who think they can’t get a cab in Portland are calling at bar-30 on weekend nights—many on New Year’s Eve. Should we bolster the city fleet to meet this level of demand 24/7? As a new cabbie, I drove weeknights, and the only unmet need I saw was getting enough fares to make my rent.

Union Cab seems like a nice company, and I wish it all the best. Still, if TriMet wasn’t too cool to do one last run outbound from downtown at, say, 2:45 am—even just on weekends—we wouldn’t be having this conversation.


QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

 
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