Uber plans to temporarily suspend its operations in Portland, Oregon, after launching there illegally two weeks ago. As first spotted by The Wall Street Journal, the transportation company has agreed to close up shop within the city's confines for three months while Portland makes changes to its private car regulations. As part of the deal, the city will allow ride-sharing companies to operate after April 9th, 2015 if updated regulations are not made, but not until then. Uber says it plans to stop its own pick-ups the evening of Sunday, December 21st.
"Uber is dedicated to curating and continuing a valuable and constructive relationship with Portland's lawmakers, working to create a regulatory framework that works for everyone, not just us. Not just the taxi cabs. Not just the city officials. Everyone," the company said in a statement.
Uber's launch took Portland by surprise
In a press release, Portland's Mayor Charlie Hales said that a new task force will begin evaluating limits on permits for transportation network companies, as well as deciding on regulations for accessibility, pricing, vehicle inspections, background checks on drivers, and insurance requirements.
Uber surprised Portland officials earlier this month by launching without the city's blessing, prompting a quick lawsuit, as well as a cease and desist order. Prior to the legal action, the city threatened fines of $1,500 against Uber (for the first offense) and up to $2,250 for the driver, climbing up to $5,000 for additional violations. For its part, Uber said it would support drivers who were fined.
Despite that, enforcement within Portland's borders has been complicated due to its proximity to neighboring cities where Uber is allowed, including right across the bridge in Vancouver, Washington. Drivers in those places can pick passengers up and drop them off into Portland within minutes, but not pick up someone else who may have hired a car.
Uber says that more than 10,000 rides have been delivered in Portland since the service launched there, with some 300 new drivers signing up. Those drivers will need to sit tight or start picking up in neighboring cities like Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Tigard until operations within Portland resume.
Correction: The headline has been changed to reflect that the suspension is part of an agreement with the city, and not a stipulation of Portland's lawsuit against Uber.
Update December 18th, 7:36PM: More details about the task force have been added.