Portland Will Get New Taxis for the First Time in 10 Years

Portland Mercury:

Nathan GillesUnion Cab Members Pack City HallAfter more than four years of effort, members of the cabbie-run start-up Union Cab Cooperative finally got the thumbs up they needed from city hall: Yesterday, November 7, Mayor Sam Adams and Portland City Council approved the creation of a new cab company and added new permits to Portland's taxi fleet for the first time in over a decade. The decision increases Portland's taxi fleet by 35 percent to 514 cabs and grants the cooperative Union Cab 50 permits to get their business started.
The process to allow new taxis in Portland has been surprisingly controversial and has divided the city's roughly 900 drivers. During yesterday’s council meeting, wearing orange t-shirts and buttons displaying their new company’s name, members of Union Cab and their families packed the council chambers in anticipation of the city’s decision. Following over three hours of public testimony, Mayor Adams and council unanimously rubber-stamped the new company and—breaking from the normal rules about keeping quiet in the council chambers—Adams let the gathered crowd clap and cheer when the permits were approved. These permits will be phased in over the next three years, with a promise by the city to study whether the new permits are helping or hurting the city’s drivers. But, as we reported earlier, not every cab driver is happy with the addition of 132 taxis to the city. The lead critic of the new permits is Portland cab driver Red Diamond. At yesterday’s meeting, Diamond testified that he felt the 35 percent increase would “over-saturate the market,” making it harder for him and other cab drivers to earn a living. To bolster his argument, Diamond submitted a petition to the council signed by 300 Portland cab drivers concerned about the increase. And, true to an earlier statement he made to the Mercury about taking legal action, Diamond has lawyered up. [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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