Eugene opens door for Uber and Lyft

Following a 7-1 vote on April 23, the Eugene City Council updated its transportation law to include Uber, Lyft and other rideshare companies. Rideshare companies hire drivers who use their cars to provide customers with transportation on short notice.

According to Rachelle Nicholas, Eugene’s inspections services manager for planning and developing, the transportation law requires that all public passenger vehicle drivers obtain a license and driver certification cards in order to drive. After receiving approval from the company they work for, the drivers will need to receive approval from the city. Approval from the EPD will likely include background checks from the Eugene Police Department as well as proof of vehicle inspection and insurance. The entire certification process, which is similar to that for Eugene taxi drivers, must be renewed annually.

“I think this is going to be great addition to our transportation model,” Councilor Jennifer Yeh said during the meeting, adding that the updated ordinance will open doors for more transportation options for the community.

Councilor Greg Evans said that it is time that Eugene, the largest city in Oregon without a rideshare service, joins “the rest of the state of Oregon and most of the rest of the United States” by providing the rideshare services desired by the community.

Councilor  Claire Syrett, who voted against the updated law, said that she does not believe the time gap between when the EPD conducts its background checks and when drivers are allowed to pick up passengers is sufficient. She added that she believes that large rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft do not have the safety and health of the community as a priority and will not likely uphold the revised driver requirements.

“I do not trust the companies that are currently operating in this industry to conduct themselves with the due diligence I feel this community expects,” Syrett said.

David Bowden, the owner of Eugene Hybrid Taxi Cabs, does not think rideshare services will threaten Eugene Hybrid Taxi Cabs because his company often relies on customers who make appointments, such as airport pickups. Rideshare services may even be beneficial for taxi companies during busy Friday nights and weekends, Bowden said. However, he is concerned that bringing rideshare services to Eugene will be detrimental to the community by congesting traffic. In New York City and Portland, Bowden said, traffic flow has decreased by five to seven miles.

Bowden added that unlike taxi companies, rideshare companies do not decide how many of their drivers work every day. Uber and Lyft drivers are likely going to struggle to have customers on days that aren’t busy, Bowden said.

“There’s going to be a bunch of people who are upset that they don’t get any customers, and they won’t want to keep doing their jobs,” Bowden said.

Although it has not been officially stated when Uber or Lyft will bring their businesses to Eugene, the current updated law allows rideshare businesses to start immediately in the city.