Uber Has Chance to Become Legal in Philly
Posted by Phil Press Institute on 2nd November 2015
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Uber
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There is legislation that may legalize Uber, but the Philadelphia Parking Authority will only support the bill if it passes certain requirements.

The taxi app has been in use (technically illegally) in Philadelphia for a year. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), which regulates taxi services, famously targeted the ride-sharing app in an undercover sting operation that resulted in the impounding of some drivers’ cars.

Now, a new bill introduced by state senator Camera Bartolotta is currently making its way through the legislation process offers a new framework that regulates Uber and similar services and apps such as Lyft within Philadelphia.

Vince Fenerty, the PPA executive director, stated that he is in favor of the legalization of Uber and similar services under the introduced bill. However, it will only be soif Uber and its drivers meet the standards upheld by the PPA for its current drivers.

“We have no objections to UberX operating if the bill is amended or changed in committee, which is a normal process, so that the PPA would regulate them – not PUC (Pennsylvania Utility Commission),” Fenerty stated.

“We believe the UberX drivers should have to go through the same training that limo drivers and cab drivers do. Vehicles should be inspected. We should run a criminal background check. Uber doesn’t believe in that, so there are some differences,” he stated.

Sources that have knowledge about the bill state it will go through considerable revisions before it becomes a law, however, Uber isn’t necessarily against the PPA overseeing their drivers.

Uber has 12,000 partner drivers in Philadelphia and provided millions of rides in the past year to 700,000 passengers.

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In Philadelphia, Uber offers UberX, wherein drivers use their own vehicle to provide rides, and UberBLACK and UberSUV, which are high-end alternatives that provide SUVs and black sedans.

Uber Ride
Image Courtesy of Alexander Torrenegra

“Sen. Bartolotta’s bills support much needed transportation innovation by establishing common sense regulations for ride sharing across the entire Commonwealth, protecting consumer choice and the thousands of jobs Pennsylvanians need,” according to an email from Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett.

Bennett did not comment about Fenerty’s statements regarding what the bill must or must not include.

Uber sent a petition to its users throughout Pennsylvania asking them to sign and display their support for Bartolotta’s bill. The number is currently at 87,000 of a target of 90,000 signatures.

Regardless of popular support, Fenerty made it clear that he believes UberX operations need better regulation.

“Uber is not a transportation company – they’re an app company,” he stated. “I have to worry about the safety of people and the safety of cars. We’re not asking UberX to do any more or any less than a cab or limo company would have to do.”

Fenerty added that the ride sharing app still owes the PPA massive fines, specifically a $1,000 per day fine the PPA levied against the company since their operation started in Philadelphia.