If you've ever tried to catch a cab in Portland, Oregon, whether on a busy Friday night or a lazy afternoon, then you understand that the city desperately needs a disruptive service like Uber to come in and light a fire under the old guard.
City officials in Portland disagree, however, and they've filed a lawsuit against Uber over the company's apparently "illegal" launch there.
Uber began operating in Portland in early December despite the city's objections over the company's prices, its lack of services for disabled customers, and its lack of insurance and background check standards for its drivers. Now the Portland Bureau of Transportation has issued a cease-and-desist to all Uber drivers operating in the city.
"Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that," Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement. "Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety. So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers. Because everyone agrees: good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we're seeking a court injunction."
Troubles 'round the world
Uber's troubles stretch far beyond Portland, though. In the wake of privacy and safety concerns, not helped by a rape allegation in India, lots of cities and countries around the world are taking a close look at the company.
Indian officials banned the service from Delhi, while Thailand has taken separate issue with Uber's use of private cars rather than licensed taxis.
And a judge in Spain has ordered Uber to cease all services in the country because Uber drivers lack the official authorization that's required to operate taxis there.
The list goes on and on. It's a shame that Uber's services have become so controversial, because it really is useful in metropolitan areas, particularly ones without robust public transportation, or where traditional cab companies have free reign to charge whatever they want for terrible service.
At least the company, perhaps in a big to get some positive attention for once, has announced a partnership to accept charitable donations for No Kid Hungry through its app. Well done Uber?