Portsmouth Rejects Temporary Exemption For Uber Drivers, Seeks Long Term Solution

Dec 23, 2014

  The Portsmouth City Council has voted down a measure that would have created a temporary legal exception for drivers of the ride-sharing company, Uber.

City Attorney Bob Sullivan established the previous week that online ride-sharing does qualify as a taxi service in Portsmouth, and could be subject to taxi inspection and medallion requirements.

But in a 5-4 vote Monday night, City Councilors rejected the 60-day protection for Uber’s drivers proposed by Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine.

Uber, which is also operating in Manchester, hires third-party drivers, and allows customers to use a smartphone app to flag them down.

Attorney Sullivan says in order to allow ride-sharing in Portsmouth, Councilors would need to amend the city’s taxi ordinance.   “That did not happen last night.”

Portsmouth Mayor Bob Lister says it could happen yet, but it will take some time. “Right now, we’re looking at all the options,” he said.  

Lister says some of the issues councilors will need to grapple with include driver and vehicle safety concerns, as well as whether or not the taxi medallion system should be replaced.

The city’s taxi commission will hold a public forum on January 14, and deliver recommendations to City Council.