Chamber of Commerce calls on City of Eugene to update codes to bring Uber, Lyft to town

The Eugene Chamber of Commerce sent an email to its members, encouraging them to write to City Councilors.

EUGENE, Ore. - If you think ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft should come to Eugene, you are not alone.

On Tuesday, the Eugene Chamber of Commerce sent an email to its members, encouraging them to write to city councilors.

"We have heard from many of our members that they support ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber coming to our community," the Chamber said in a statement. "The Eugene Chamber of Commerce is advocating on behalf of our members to urge city staff and elected officials to make the updates to our local codes that would support these companies to service our Eugene/ Springfield community, while looking for solutions that create a level playing field for current taxi companies."

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Brittany Quick-Warner, Director of Business Advocacy for the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, said that ride sharing services would boost the local economy by helping companies recruit talent, helping visitors get around and encouraging them to come back.

Visitors, like Rumesha Whitfield, agree.

Whitfield visits Eugene often from California and said she has difficulty getting around.

"I had to rely on either a taxi which took a long time to come, or my hotel shuttle service, which is really not the best way to see all the neighborhoods that the city has to offer," Whitfield said.

Whitfield said she likes the familiarity of a ride sharing service like Uber or Lyft. With a ride sharing service, she said she would also save money on a rental car.

"I would feel great about getting an Uber or Lyft and going and having a meal and maybe having a glass of wine and not having to worry about driving," Whitfield said.

Many agree that ride sharing services are conveniant.

But Jay Mayernik, general manager for Oregon Taxi, wants to make sure they are safe.

"They should be held to the same safety requirements," Mayernik said.

He said Uber and Lyft drivers should follow the same insurance policies and background checks that traditional taxis follow.

If competition does come to town, Mayernik said there are still some things that set them apart.

"You're able to actually call us where there might be people that don't have smart phones. If you don't have a smart phone and a credit card, you couldn't use one of the transportation network companies."

Still, Mayernik said he understands that times are changing. Oregon Taxi has developed their own app that has 27,000 downloads to date.

Quick-Warner said before ride sharing services come to Eugene, the Eugene City Council will need to update their rules on three things: insurance, vehicle safety checks and background checks.

The Chamber is hopeful that that discussion will take place in the coming weeks.

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