- In a letter to the Portland, OR City Council, Uber apologized for what it called "certain missteps" in its relationships with the city and promised to do better moving forward.
- The apology comes about a month after the city fined Uber $3.5 million and only renewed its permit to operate for six months, rather than the standard year-long renewal. KOIN reported the fine came after Uber broke city code by not notifying Portland about a security breach that compromised data on its drivers.
- "At times, we conducted operations in a way that failed to live up to the Portland way of collaboration and transparency," Alejandro Chouza, Uber’s General Manager for the Pacific Northwest, wrote. "For that we apologize."
Uber’s contrition, less than three months after Portland handed down the fine, comes with the company's pursuit of a less adversarial relationship with the cities in which it operates. And it is mere days after CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said amid a slew of new partnerships that he wanted the company to be a better partner to cities and work together to solve urban transportation needs.
Uber's relationship with Portland has perhaps been one of its most contentious. In addition to the $3.5 million fine, Uber was also hit in 2016 with a $2,000 penalty for violating the city’s lobbying rules, and was previously punished for using software to try and skirt city regulators. In a letter to the company levying the latest fine, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said Uber has shown a "continuing disregard for Portland laws and regulatory structure." Uber responded that the city was "engaging in breathtaking overreach to fill its coffers."
But Chouza’s letter shows Uber’s willingness to turn things around. He pledged the company will help improve access to transportation options, and "conduct our business here with integrity, humility, and a passion for improving the community." He also emphasized the partnerships Uber has already built in Portland, including with the TriMet transit authority to develop a multi-modal trip planning app, as well as with nonprofits. "You have our firm commitment that we will work to make things right, and be as collaborative as possible to keep this emerging global city moving forward," Chouza wrote.
Under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, Uber is clearly looking to rehabilitate its image after receiving negative press last year for its former CEO's questionable behavior, "shady" business practices, treatment of employees and alleged sexual harassment cover-ups. And after a fractious past relationship with Portland, this letter suggests an early step towards mending fences.