The potential arrival of Transportation Network Companies, like Uber and Lyft, in Central Oregon has generated plenty of headlines over the past six months. After discussions with local stakeholders, taxi operators, and City staff in Bend and Redmond, along with a work session with the Bend City Council, a review of a draft policy is scheduled for tomorrow’s (February 1st) Council regular session beginning at 7 pm.

Read on for background and information on how to weigh in:

How We Got Here

TNCs reached out to both the City of Bend and City of Redmond last year wondering how they’d be treated under existing code. This led to a review of what was on the books and a discussion of what changes were needed to accommodate the TNC business model while meeting maintaining parity with the .

In the fall of 2016 Bend and Redmond city staff held a meeting with taxi, shuttle, and town car providers to solicit input on areas of concern and opportunities for updating processes. The identified focus areas included existing insurance requirements, who performs driver background checks (Bend Police or qualified third party companies), and how to license drivers.

While drafting the proposed in recent weeks city staff discussed the principles under consideration with the Bend City Council, you can see video of the discussion by clicking here and locating the January 18th meeting recording, discussion starts at the very beginning of the video.

What’s In the Policy?

For more information on the proposed policy, you can download a copy of the Issue Summary here and read the proposed code here.

As drafted, the code addresses a number of potential changes to how transportation companies are licensed, background checks, and insurance requirements. Highlights include:

  • Taxi company and TNC insurance requirements: Reduces Bend taxi company insurance requirements to be on-par with TNC “period 3” coverage, with insurance limits of not less than $1 million per occurrence and $2 million in aggregate.
  • Licensing: Shifts licensing from being the responsibility of a individual driver to being the responsibility of the taxi company or TNC. Allows city staff to audit companies for compliance with record keeping and background check requirements.
  • Requires criminal background checks of no-less than seven years of criminal history for drivers, excluding potential drivers for a number of criminal or traffic violations. These background checks can be performed by qualified third party providers.

Next Steps

A scheduled first reading doesn’t necessarily mean that a policy will move forward at tomorrow’s meeting. Council will ultimately decide if the policy is good as is, if it needs more work, or if more time is needed for public input or redrafting.

Once a policy moves from a first reading to a second reading it will be discussed again at an upcoming council meeting, typically the meeting following the passage of a first reading. Assuming the second reading results in an affirmative vote from Council the policy will be enacted which will require an implementation or phase in period. Stay tuned for updates/

Have Feedback?

If you have strong feelings about the proposed policy you can speak in person at the February 1st Council meeting. Attendees will have the opportunity to say their part for up to 3 minutes. The discussion on Taxis and TNCs is scheduled early in the meeting,

Can’t make the meeting? You can always reach out to the full City Council via email by contacting Council@bendoregon.gov, messages are distributed to each Councilor’s individual mailbox.

Have additional questions? Contact Ben Hemson, Business Advocate for the City of Bend, at bendforbusiness@bendoregon.gov or 541-388-5529.