The Portland City Council demonstrated remarkably good judgement when it instituted its transportation network company pilot program back in April, allowing firms like Uber and Lyft to operate while simultaneously deregulation the taxi industry.
Now, a more predictably onerous proposal has emerged from one of the city’s commissioners. On Nov. 5, the City Council will have an opportunity to resolve, in no uncertain terms, what sort of transportation-for-hire future it prefers.
The new proposal, introduced by Commissioner Steve Novick as part of a massive report on transportation-for-hire trends in the city, is a 153-page monument to the aspirations of a nanny-state.
As if to leave to leave no question about its intent to utterly control the market, the section regulating TNCs begins with the statement: “The operation of Transportation Network Companies is a privilege and not a right.” The proposal only devolves further from there.
Gone are flat permit fees, replaced by a regressive ride-surcharge model. Gone is the relatively low barrier to entry, vital to the economic opportunity provided by TNCs. It’s replaced by a needless city-mandated training course to inform drivers of, among other things, the Rose City’s many tourist attractions. Restricted are the vital dynamic pricing tools which guarantee that service is available during periods of high demand.
The city’s current politics don’t appear to favor continued liberalization. The pilot program was adopted with a 3-2 vote, Commissioner Steve Novick voting in favor of the program. Now, as the sponsor of the new proposal, Novick’s mind is apparently in closer alignment with those who opposed it.
At R Street, we provide a yearly evaluation of the nation’s municipal transportation-for-hire marketplaces, known as RideScore. If Portland adopts the Novick proposal, it will, as a comparative matter, cement its place as one of the most restrictive jurisdictions in the country. Such a development can only hurt the very constituents that Novick and his like-minded colleagues aspire to help.