BEND, OR -- Ride-sharing services could be available in Bend as soon as mid-March, if City Councilors approve changes to current code. "Transportation Network Companies," like Uber and Lyft now operate in Bozeman, Montana and Spokane, Washington, and Bend officials are looking to how similar cities have accommodated the popular service.
City Manager Eric King tells KBND News, "There are some provisions in the code that don’t really work for Transportation Network Companies, so we’re doing an overhaul of that code. And, there are some basic principles of equity in terms of a taxicab company vs. an Uber driver. But, there are also differences in how those two operate. So, there are some adjustments that have to be made to the code."
Local cab companies have opposed the move. But King says overhauling the code should address their concerns. "The big issue is the insurance issue and background checks. And, in both cases, there is some equity with the insurance but there are also some differences and that’s just because those models are different. There are tiered insurance levels that are available for Transportation Network Companies and so we talked about that with Council. Other than that, we’re really [trying to achieve] equity between the two." He says changes to things like background check requirements would apply to both cabs and ride-sharing services. "We had been doing them in the police department; we want the companies to take care of those background checks and give the ability to the city to audit. [It’s] A much more efficient way to sort of manage the system. There’s also a very different way of doing background checks – the fingerprinting that had been done, it was referred in our code as somewhat of an antiquated way to determine whether or not someone has a criminal background. Just cleaning some of the code up is going to, I think, help address some of those concerns." Council will hear the first reading of the code changes and take public comment, February first.
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