ASHLAND, Ore. — Thursday, October 18 was supposed to be something of a momentous day in Ashland — the very first day that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft could pick up passengers within the city. But that day could come and go largely unnoticed, according to statements from the Ashland Police Department (APD).
Uber launched their services in Medford in December of last year, and Ashland seemed bound to follow in due time. For months, however, it didn't happen. Ashland wanted to add additional provisions for rideshare drivers picking up in their city — background checks that go back 10 years, followed by tighter safety and accessibility requirements. Negotiations would break down for a time.
In September, in a late night session, the city council pushed through a new municipal code that signalled an approval of rideshare companies picking up in the city. It was set to go into effect on October 18.
But since then...silence. According to a statement from APD, Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft, while ostensibly permitted to operate in the city, need to first register with the City. So far, neither company has done so.
"To make it absolutely clear, first the TNC must register (they have not) and then the drivers can register, until that happens there is no TNC operation within Ashland. You can still drop off, but not pick up," APD said.
Until rideshare companies register in Ashland, drivers are still prohibited from picking up in the city. If they do eventually register, then the drivers themselves can register as well. Both steps will have to be followed for anyone to call Uber or Lyft from Ashland.
That said, APD acknowledged that some people may try to skirt the issue.
"A TNC cannot dispatch a driver to anywhere within the city to pick up a fare, so even if you try to get picked it won't (shouldn't) work, it should instead say that the service is not available. The PD is aware that there are some drivers who are circumventing this system and picking up via a phone call. If a driver is doing that they face a muni code violation if they are caught," APD said.
Taxi cab companies are still able to operate legally within the city as usual.