(Nov. 6, 2014) In response to high demand for taxi service on weekend nights, the Portland Bureau of Transportation will launch a Seasonal Taxi Permit Pilot Program this weekend.
Starting Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, companies and vehicles currently permitted to provide non-emergency medical transportation will be eligible to provide on-demand taxi service Friday and Saturday nights, from 5:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. each night. This pilot program will terminate on January 2, 2015.
The change comes as PBOT prepares to begin a top-to-bottom review of the City’s regulations for taxis, limos, town cars and other services, which are regulated by the Private for Hire Transportation (PFHT) Division. The City Council moved the division from the Revenue Bureau to PBOT effective July 1, 2014.
New tracking software has identified times during which there is a definitive shortage of taxicab vehicles available to serve the public during periods of peak demand.
Initial reports indicate that during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, there is an approximate 90 percent availability of Broadway and Radio cabs requested through their contracted smartphone application, called Curb.
On weekends, that percentage drops to 60 percent and lower. For instance, on Saturday, Oct. 25, between 2 and 3 a.m., 206 requests for rides were made to Broadway Cab and Radio Cab through Curb, but only 50 of those requests were fulfilled.
“As we enter the holiday season, the busiest time of the year for taxi companies, there is a pressing need for more cabs on weekend nights,” said Leah Treat, Director of PBOT. “Further review of how best to serve increased calls for on-demand, private for hire transportation service in Portland is needed. We’re committed to look at ways to modernize and improve taxi service in Portland.”
Complaints regarding the availability and long wait times for taxis account for the majority of complaints received by the PFHT Division. At this time, the most current data on taxi availability and response times is only available through Curb on calls to service for Broadway and Radio cabs. However, this data is consistent with the availability of other taxi companies permitted by the City of Portland.
The Seasonal Taxi Permit Pilot Program was authorized under Administrative Rule 16.40.520.J by the Director of Transportation and expires on January 2, 2015. As many as 100 vehicles are expected to be eligible to apply to participate in this pilot program starting Friday, Nov. 7.
A list of all permitted for-hire transportation operators is available here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/revenue/article/296082. For more information about the PFHT Division, or to file a complaint, call 503-865-2486 or email Regulatory@PortlandOregon.gov.