Portland comes down hard on Uber drivers, threatens large fines

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Uber just launched in Portland, Oregon on Friday, and it’s already raising the ire of local officials.

Ars Technica reports that the City of Portland plans to levy hefty fines against Uber drivers operating within the city without a valid taxi permit. According to a press release, Portland’s city government “is prepared to issue civil and criminal penalties against Uber and its drivers for operating without required permits and inspections.”

According to the press release, Uber drivers risk fines between $1000 and $5000 by operating inside Portland without the required paperwork.

Uber, for its part, published a blog post defending its launch in Portland:

“254 cities in 51 countries; 64% of the U.S. population covered; 14 U.S. jurisdictions and counting have adopted a smart regulatory framework for ridesharing – a transportation alternative that didn’t exist four years ago. Now it’s time to try and bring Uber everywhere – even the cities where we know it’s going to be a tough challenge/“

“We’re eager to work with City and State leaders to bring the impact of the Uber platform to Portland and cut down on drunk driving, serve underserved communities, increase transit to small business and help drive the local economy,” the post continues.

The story behind the story: Uber’s run-in with Portland’s city government is the latest in but a string of disputes with local officials who say the ridesharing service violates transit regulations.

Uber’s recent foray into Las Vegas ended quickly and abruptly when Nevada State Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto successfully sought a court ruling to prevent Uber from doing business in the state until a formal hearing could take place. A judge issued a temporary injunction in late November to keep Uber out of Nevada for the time being, Uber “temporarily suspended” its Nevada operations later that week.

With that in mind, it may not be unreasonable to think that Uber has a long fight ahead to win approval in Portland.

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