Operations

Philadelphia Operators Bear No Brotherly Love For Uber

Posted on March 14, 2014

TREVOSE, Pa.—In an effort to combat the proliferation of Uber drivers skirting rules and regulations at Philadelphia International Airport, a new joint Philadelphia-New Jersey committee to address the situation was formed last night at the monthly meeting of the Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association (PRLA). The main topic of conversation at the meeting, PRLA member Michael Barreto, Philadelphia branch manager, Flyte Tyme and Jim Moseley, president of Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) volunteered to form a new committee to address the situation with both Philadelphia and state regulatory authorities.

The main concern for area operators is the surge of Uber cars muscling in on business at the airport, and violating rules and regulation in place for taxis and private transportation companies. Soliciting business inside the airport and violating curb-side pick-up rules are some of the infractions mentioned by members at the meeting.

Although some PRLA members said the airport apparently is cracking down, more needs to be done, especially as Uber drivers are waiting in the public cell-phone lot for potential fares. “They’re pretty much writing their own rules, subverting the system,” Baretto said. He added that it’s the smaller limousine operators who Uber mostly hurts because they often depend on non-corporate customers, who now may opt for an Uber ride to the airport.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority in fact did conduct a sting operation last year on SideCar, another mobile ridesharing app company, after inspectors took rides and found drivers did not have proper licenses. The car service was shut down because drivers did not have the proper taxi medallions. “Probably half at the airport are not properly licensed,” added Barreto.

However, Uber has so far avoided problems because it only offers UberBlack in Philadelphia, a service in which drivers are licensed by the PPA and, in theory, are only supposed to use “luxury” black car sedans and SUVs as part of their operation. Barreto said Uber helped set up a company that obtained the PPA licenses, but doubts all drivers are up to code on such regulations as mandatory liability insurance requirements and other regulations.

Added Moseley, “We are all trying to understand Uber at the local and national levels and what we can do in terms that Uber plays by the same rules and regulations that we do.”

Moseley and Barreto said that they will see what can be done to crack down on Uber drivers at the airport in terms of pushing PPA regulators to conduct more sting operations at the airport to make sure Uber drivers are in regulatory compliance and abide by existing rules and regulations.

 —By Tom Halligan, LCT East Coast Editor

 

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