REDMOND, Ore. - Bend and Redmond city officials are working to bring a popular ride-sharing service to Central Oregon.
Uber has reached out to both cities, as they are interested in attracting new drivers and customers.
Redmond Airport Director Zachary Bass said Thursday the company is interested in providing services to travelers coming to and from the Redmond Airport.
“We run about a 74 percent retention rate, which means 74 percent of people flying are flying out of Redmond,” he said.
The cities of Bend and Redmond are currently talking about changing their taxi code, which would need approval from both city councils.
City officials are looking at whether Uber drivers would need to register for a business license and also go through background checks.
Taxi drivers working in the Bend city limits must go through a background check and pay a license fee to operate.
Officials are looking at other cities across the country to see what they did to make sure Uber and local taxi businesses were able to operate on a level playing field.
Taxi drivers who work at the airport are required to park in a reserve spot to pick up travelers coming from the airport.
Bass said Uber drivers will need to go through a process with the city and airport in order for them to pick people up for rides.
Tom Krupski, the owner of Alpine Bend Shuttle, said other taxi services are worried about Uber coming to the area.
“It will definitely take some of the business away,” he said.
Krupski said he can see a high volume of people requesting rides, but there will only be a limited number of drivers in the Bend-Redmond area.
Uber doesn’t take reservations, so if someone wants to catch a flight at 3 a.m., they may not find an Uber driver on call, he said.
Krupski said that could be beneficial to local taxi companies who would be trying to compete with the new transportation service.
The city of Bend will be hosting a public hearing for taxi companies to address any concerns about Uber later this month.
"We are excited at the possibility of bringing Uber to Central Oregon, and we are grateful for all of the positive encouragement we have received from the community. Once we are up and running, Uber will make it possible for residents and visitors in Redmond and Bend to get a ride in minutes at the push of a button on their mobile phones. Central Oregon is a dynamic, rapidly growing community and we look forward to helping improve transportation for the entire region. We will continue to work diligently with the staff and elected leaders of both cities to ensure that the proper rules are in place prior to launching operations in Central Oregon."