Portland City Hall is poised to increase the number of cabs on city streets by nearly two thirds—293 new taxis to compete with the incoming "ride-sharing" company Uber.
The board that control's the Portland taxi market this afternoon voted to grant 242 new licenses to existing cab companies, and another 51 licenses to a new cab company, EcoCab, which uses Tesla electric cars.
The vote today by the city's Private For-Hire Transportation Board of Review signals a huge shift for the city's entrenched taxi market. Portland currently licenses only 460 cabs, far less than most similarly sized cities.
UPDATE, 10:50 am Thursday, Feb. 12: The permits for the six existing taxi companies—Broadway, Green, New Rose City, Radio, Union and Portland Taxi—are available immediately, City Commissioner Steve Novick's office tells WW.
"We don't expect 242 new vehicles on the road today," says Novick policy aide Bryan Hockaday. "It's up to the companies to acquire the vehicles and deploy the the drivers. It will better meet the growing demand."
The final decision on the Ecocab permits now moves to City Council, where Mayor Charlie Hales and Novick are advocating for new licenses to challenge Uber, the transportation app that invaded Portland last year and is expected to return in April.
The Portland Mercury first reported the taxi board's decision today—including the detail that the two votes against the new licenses came from representatives from Radio Cab.
WW reported in January that the city was mulling 377 new taxi licenses—a stark reversal from years of entrenched resistance to new cabs. Many taxi drivers remain opposed to new vehicles on the streets, fearing the new cabs will shrink their already low pay.