Uber Opens For Business in Portland Without City Approval

Dec 06, 2014 07:45 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

Ride-sharing service provider Uber started operating in Portland, Oregon, on Friday without the approval of city officials.

The app started working at around 5.00 pm and drivers were told to be ready to offer rides without any prior permission from local authorities.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said didn't seem pleased when asked about the launch, calling it illegal since the office hadn't received any prior notice from the cab company. The city had previously said that it wouldn't allow Uber to operate like regular cabs in the region.

Uber on the other hand doesn't think what it did is illegal.

"I don't think we're going against the city's wishes. We hope the city embraces this and listens to their constituents, the people of Portland and drivers partnering with us," said Brooke Stever, regional manager of Uber according to KGW.com.

The issue lies with the company's business model. The Uber app connects local drivers to riders directly, and some drivers boost their income by moonlighting with Uber.

Fares are metered and Uber takes 20 percent of the fare, according to

In places like Portland, the government classifies Uber in the "Town Car" category, which means the rider has to wait an hour before a driver shows up at the pick-up destination and has to pay a premium over the fare.

Uber has been working with Portland officials for months to try easing the regulations but city officials wouldn't budge. Officials told KOIN News 6 that anyone using Uber rides are subject to penalty because they are operating illegally in the city.

Drivers themselves can be hit with fines of up to $2,250.

"We have told Uber and Lyft that they are welcome to offer ideas for regulatory changes. Uber has chosen instead to break the law," City Commissioner Steve Novick said to The Oregonian.

"They think they can just come in here and flagrantly violate the law? This is really amazing. Apparently, they believe they're gods," Novick added.

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