Uber ride service launches in Port Angeles

Company also operating in Sequim, Forks

PORT ANGELES — Uber is up and running in Port Angeles.

The company announced this week that the rideshare app has gone live in the city.

“We turned it on this morning,” Uber spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak said Wednesday.

The launch comes less than a month after the City Council passed an ordinance to allow transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to operate under the same rules as taxi services.

Uber is a San Francisco-based company that offers ridesharing, ride service hailing, food delivery and other services in 700 cities, including Sequim and Forks.

“You download the Uber app, open it up and choose your destination,” Sedlak said in a telephone interview.

“It will know where you’re at, and you can request your ride.”

The Port Angeles City Council voted unanimously Aug. 20 to approve a code change to allow rideshare companies to operate in the city.

Uber and Lyft had previously inquired about Port Angeles but were unwilling to comply with a 1980s licensing code that was designed to regulate taxis, City Attorney Bill Bloor has said.

The code change simplified the licensing process for all for-hire vehicles, Bloor said.

Washington is one of the few states in the country where rideshare is regulated at the city level, Sedlak said.

“It’s exciting, for sure, that we’re launching in a new city,” Sedlak said.

“We haven’t had a new American launch in quite a while.”

Uber, which has long operated in the Seattle metropolitan area, was interested in the Port Angeles market because of its growth and strong tourism base, Sedlak said.

The company also operates in Sequim, Forks, Aberdeen, Bremerton, Centralia, Poulsbo and Shelton. Uber launched in the Olympic Peninsula region in March 2016. Uber is not presently serving Port Townsend or Longview.

“Uber makes it easy to push a button and get a ride,” Sedlak said in a Thursday email.

“We’re thrilled to be expanding in the Peninsula, offering riders a safe and reliable way to get around Port Angeles, and flexible earnings opportunities for drivers.”

Uber driver Daniel Morrison of Port Orchard said flexibility is a “big bonus” for drivers.

“This is wonderful for me because I call my own schedule,” Morrison said.

“I work whatever hours I wish to work.”

Morrison added that Uber offers safe and “very convenient” transportation for riders.

“It really helps in reducing drunk driving accidents,” Morrison said.

Morrison expected business to increase as more customers in the Port Angeles area become familiar with the app.

“As people get more used to the service, we’ll certainly spend more time there,” Morrison said.

But Crystal Clemens, owner of Port Angeles-based Northwest Cabs — one of several cab companies in Port Angeles — said Uber likely would not work in Port Angeles because of its size.

“Even if they were to take over our volume, it is still not enough for Uber,” Clemens said in a Thursday statement.

“Uber is meant for large metropolitan areas with extensive population, and even those drivers are currently struggling.

“I see it being a continued struggle for Uber drivers in this town because of the type of service it provides and the city’s size,” Clemens added.

Clallam Transit General Manager Kevin Gallacci said he doubted that Uber would impact bus and paratransit ridership.

“People have the ability to take taxis at this time,” Gallacci said Thursday.

Gallacci said he hoped that Uber would help Transit riders get from their homes to their bus stops.

Paratransit is a curb-to-curb service for elderly and disabled passengers that employs small buses equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs.

“I’m kind of happy it’s here,” Gallacci said of Uber’s Port Angeles launch.

“It provides another transportation option for folks.”

A standard Uber trip with up to four passengers begins with a $3.15 booking fee. The rate is 26 cents per minute and $1.61 per mile.

Northwest Cabs has a $3.50 initial fee and charges $2.50 per mile, according to its website, www.northwestcabs.com.

Information about driving jobs is available on the company’s website at www.uber.com.

For more about Uber, download the app or visit the website.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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