Uber Suspends Portland Service While Seeking Clearance

Uber Technologies Inc. is limiting service in Portland, Oregon, for three months as it works with local officials on regulations that will let the mobile car-booking application operate legally in the city.

Uber said in a blog post today that it is stopping pickups in Portland on Dec. 21 while regulations are being worked out, though drop-offs in the city can continue. If new rules aren’t in place by April 9, Portland will let ridesharing companies operate again, Uber said.

“We are proud to announce that we have a commitment from Portland officials to create a regulatory framework for Uber within the next three months,” the company said in the post.

The agreement signals how Uber is compromising with local authorities to work toward mutual solutions after facing regulatory backlashes across the globe. Earlier this month, the San Francisco-based company was sued by the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco over claims that it makes false assurances to customers about drivers’ background checks. Officials in Spain, Rio de Janeiro, the Netherlands and New Delhi have also banned or halted Uber’s service.

Portland sued to stop Uber on Dec. 8, three days after the service began operating there. Portland alleged that the company is in violation of more than 20 civil and criminal law provisions requiring private transportation providers to have permits, decals, insurance, rates, wheelchair accessibility and record-keeping.

“Uber’s operations pose an immediate, real and substantial threat to the public,” according to a complaint filed by Portland in state court in Multnomah County at the time.

Task Force

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement today that the city will convene a task force and is working on the new framework to include what he called “innovative transportation network companies.” The group will meet beginning on Jan. 14.

Dana Haynes, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said Hales “was always convinced that the city of Portland and Uber had more in common than we had apart on this.” Hales had asked for negotiations with the company almost every day, Haynes said, knowing that Uber would come around to having discussions. Haynes said the city is also talking with Uber rival Lyft Inc. and is in touch with both companies “constantly.”

Harsher Language

Hales had earlier this month called Uber’s action of starting operations in the city “illegal.”

“Portland embraces the technology of the sharing economy,” Hales said in a statement on Dec. 5. “The city will continue to work with transportation-network companies like Lyft to embrace that economy. To the degree that Uber wants to be part of that process: fine.”

In Uber’s blog post today, the company said it’s “eager to work with city and state leaders to bring the impact of the Uber platform to Portland and cut down on drunk driving, serve underserved communities, increase transit to small business and help drive the local economy.”

Uber was valued at $40 billion in a fundraising earlier this month, making it the most valuable privately held U.S. technology company.

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