Uber Getting Kicked Out of Portland? Fat Chance, Say City Leaders

The odds for staying in Portland are in the ride-hailing giant's favor.

Traffic in Portland's Rose Quarter (Daniel Stindt)

Uber is increasingly unpopular at Portland City Hall. But it's not going anywhere.

The ride-hailing company didn't win friends after revelations this spring that it had used a software called "Greyball" to evade city regulators in 2014, or when it tried earlier this year to undercut city rules with state legislation.

But a city investigation of Uber found no new use of Greyball since 2014—meaning the company faces no fines or penalties.

And as city officials begin their latest round of rulemaking for Uber and its competitor Lyft, WW has found little political will to kick the companies out of town or even restrain their growth.

"I'd like to see them operate as a better corporate citizen," says City Commissioner Nick Fish, a harsh critic of the company.

Interviews with city commissioners' offices show Uber has little to fear. Here's what's likely to happen, in descending order of probability.

(WW Staff)

Nearly certain:
New fines and penalties for breaking the rules.

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman plans to return to the council in February with a response to the Greyball investigation. Saltzman's office will recommend new, increased fines—and even permanent revocation of the company's license to operate—if the company seeks to evade regulators through Greyball technology or other means in the future.

Increased insurance requirements.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz is championing a measure to mandate that Uber and Lyft carry the same level of insurance as taxis. Taxis must carry half-million-dollar insurance policies; Uber and Lyft drivers don't have to carry such insurance at times when they're tooling around waiting for a fare.

A cap on the number of cars operating in Portland.

Fritz's office says that's improbable, at least in the upcoming round of reforms.

Not a chance:
An outright ban.

London recently banned Uber. But no one at City Hall has yet suggested a ban here, and even Fritz, Uber's avowed enemy, isn't proposing one.

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