Uber was forced to pull out of Eugene because it did not meet specific codes, and we believe consumers are the loser because of that disagreement.
It's time to allow Uber to conduct business in Central Oregon. Both the cities of Bend and Redmond will soon consider adding the San Francisco-based technology company into the area to provide more transportation options for residents and tourists, and it's high time the region has those app-based options. Uber and other companies such as Lyft reflect the way more and more business is conducted – in this case connecting a quick ride for hire by using an app on a smart phone. In many cases, it's cheaper and quicker than traditional taxi service.
Recently, several cab company owners and Uber officials met with Bend and Redmond city officials to explore the idea of allowing Uber here. Cab owners were vocally adamant; they don't want Uber competition here, and they say if it is allowed, Uber should be required to play by the same rules and regulations required of cabbies.
Cab companies also say Uber should be required to have the same safety inspections for their independent contractor's vehicles, the same minimum insurance required of cab companies, and no special loading zones or lanes at airports or other areas, among other concerns.
During that local meeting, Uber representatives assured Bend and Redmond officials that they require extensive background checks of drivers, require regular vehicle maintenance checks and certification, and maintain a standard of insurance coverage to protect themselves and their riders. Still, cab representatives argue they are required to maintain more insurance than Uber, and they want a minimum insurance requirement consistent with cab rates.
City officials admit they need to update transportation codes for the region before giving the green light to Uber. Uber was forced to pull out of Eugene because it did not meet specific codes, and we believe consumers are the loser because of that disagreement. Let's not enable the same thing to happen in Bend and Redmond because of poorly-written or outdated codes.
While local cab companies argue that adding Uber service to the region would result in dollars leaving the local economy, Uber argues the opposite, citing studies that show adding Uber in Portland was not only good for Uber, but also resulted in more business for traditional cab drivers.
A free marketplace is good for consumers. There will be more options for those who need rides. There will be more options during the heavy summer tourism cycle. More competition will force cab companies to continue to up their game, resulting in better service.
It's time for more options in Central Oregon, but when updating transportation codes, we urge city officials in both Redmond and Bend to make sure the playing field is even for all. No one company should have an unfair advantage over locally-based businesses that have grown from the ground up in Central Oregon. When that's accomplished, let's Uber!