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Bend councilors give nod to rules for Uber, Lyft


The Bend City Council gave an initial green light Wednesday night to a revised city code that previously only regulated taxis but now covers new ride-sharing businesses, such as Uber and Lyft.

It unanimously approved the first reading, with a second reading and a vote in two weeks and scheduled implementation on May 1.

The changes first came before the council for approval two weeks ago, but they spent over an hour discussing several questions and issues, such as criminal background checks that now will be done by the companies, rather than city police.

Two changes were made to the new rules Wednesday night. All Uber or Lyft cars, like taxis, will need some form of exterior identification on the car. Also, the city will require criminal background checks on drivers each year by the companies, instead of every two years; since taxi permits are renewed annually at present, with similar background checks, it was part of an effort to keep a level playing field between the two services.

City staff asked for the May 1 effective date, giving them time to prepare forms and a fee schedule.

“I think we’re going to have a better plan that protects riders and people who use that service, but also allow the transportation companies to get started this year,” Mayor Casey Roats said. “I think everyone understands that they’re coming, it’s just that we need to make sure we get the code language right.”

The current Bend code was written long before ride-sharing companies were created. The new rules are aimed at equal treatment of traditional taxis and these transportation network companies. Roats said if the code proceeds as planned, Bend could see Uber and/or Lyft starting this summer.

The city of Redmond is working on similar rules for transportation network companies.

The council also approved three contract amendments to pay more than $300,000 in added plowing costs from the snowiest winter in years. That includes funds out of reserves to pay contractors who helped plow side streets. Two others are for snow removal at the Bend airport, city facilities and downtown parking lots. It’s costing the city close to $800,000 in total to to plow city streets this winter, prompting a planned review for next year about operations and what changes may be needed.

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