Every time a Portlander takes a ride with Uber or Lyft, they pay a 50 cent surcharge. Until last year, taxi passengers also paid this surcharge. Now taxis pay permit fees to operate in Portland
Why does PBOT require these charges and fees?
The reason is simple: to help ensure that all taxi, Uber and Lyft rides are safe, reliable and accessible to Portlanders, especially Portlanders with disabilities. Meeting this goal is a big task, especially because Portlanders really like to take taxis and Uber and Lyft rides. Last year alone, they took over 12.5 million trips. It takes a lot of vehicles inspections, driver training and other programs to make sure that passengers get what they pay for when they order a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
Here are some of the services and programs, passengers help to fund when they ride in Portland.
Vehicle safety inspections and driver background checks.
To make sure that taxis, Ubers and Lyfts are roadworthy, PBOT inspectors conduct thousands of safety inspections. During these inspections, they also make sure that the drivers are who they say they are and that their vehicle registration and insurance are up to date. PBOT also reviews the backgrounds of all drivers who apply for a permit to drive a taxi, Uber or Lyft, as well as other for-hire services in Portland.
PBOT started this new program with one goal in mind: make it easier for passengers in wheelchairs to get a taxi, Uber or Lyft that can accommodate their mobility devices. Being in a wheelchair and trying to hail a cab or order a Lyft or Uber can be a frustrating experience. People with disabilities on average wait much longer than other passengers and sometimes rides that are ordered don’t show up at all. PDX WAV is designed to do something about this. It has created a central dispatch for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV) and also provides a subsidy to make it financially more attractive for drivers and companies to operate accessible vehicles, which are more expensive to buy and maintain. To learn more about PDX WAV, visit the website.
Driver education and training
PBOT is expanding the education and training it offers to drivers. The new programs will have more training on safe driving habits, how to provide the best customer services and also how drivers can help to identify and report human trafficking.
Safe Ride Home
Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs is one of the most significant contributors to deadly traffic crashes. The number of deadly crashes often increase on holidays like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day when many people party. To help people celebrate responsibly, PBOT offers the Safe Ride Home program. Safe Ride Home provides discounts on taxi, Uber and Lyft rides, so revelers can leave the driving to a safe and sober driver. For more information about Safe Ride Home visit the website. For more information about PBOT’s overall approach to traffic safety, visit our Vision Zero website.
The taxi business is an attractive option for entrepreneurs from Portland’s immigrant and refugee communities. To help such business people get into the industry and also help existing businesses operate more effectively, PBOT will soon launch a taxi business incubator. This incubator will offer free consulting services to new and existing companies to help them implement best business and financial practices. The program will also help them obtain DMWESB certification and provide advice about how to comply with city codes and other rules.
The transportation wallet is an innovative PBOT program that provides free or reduced-price transit passes, bike-share memberships and taxi, Uber, Lyft and carshare credits to Portlanders who give up their parking passes. PBOT plans to expand this program to residents who live in affordable housing complexes. The surcharge will go toward offsetting the prices of taxi, Uber and Lyft credits. For more information about the Transportation Wallet visit the website.