BEND, OR -- A number of local cab drivers are expressing concerns over the possibility of Uber coming to Central Oregon. Ordinance changes are being discussed in Bend and Redmond, which could pave the way for the ride-sharing service to expand here.
Taxi driver Aaron Schmidt spoke at Wednesday night's Bend City Council meeting. He’s worried about increased liability and decreased safety. "The insurance requirements that we taxi companies have to deal with, there are loopholes with Uber where, if they don’t have a passenger in their vehicle and they get in an accident, they are not being covered properly. This is a big liability because their private insurance for their vehicle won’t cover them because they are using their vehicles for profit."
Matt Cave has driven a cab for five years in Bend. He told Councilors those driving for a company like Uber may not be subject to the same rigorous safety standards. "We are certified through the Bend Police Department to be taxi driver. We do a national background check, finger printing, to make sure we are who we say we are."
Councilor Nathan Boddie says he has looked into the issue and agrees it needs to be approached carefully to balance public safety with competition, while supporting local businesses. "It’s not that they don’t want the competition; it’s that they want the competition to be fair. What seems to be the larger pattern is they tend to get the local communities to rewrite the rules in their favor, then sort of deteriorate that fairness and equity."