Over the weekend, a colleague told me that he had seen an Uber Philadelphia advertisement soliciting drivers for UberX, the low-cost Uber alternative that exists in some 40 U.S. markets, from Boston and New York to Milwaukee and Tulsa.
I thought it a bit odd, since UberX is very similar to SideCar, the car service app that was so memorably booted out of Philadelphia in 2013 by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. While an Uber driver is a licensed limo driver who shows up in a suit and a nice black sedan, your UberX or SideCar driver is basically your Uncle John in his flannel shirt and 2009 Buick. And the PPA, which regulates taxis and limousines in Philadelphia, doesn’t like that very much.
But it turns out that Uber is looking to bring UberX not to Philadelphia but to South Jersey, where there's no PPA to get in the way. A spokesperson for Uber told me that the company is "testing the viability" of UberX in South Jersey. Legally speaking, an UberX driver would be able to pick up from South Jersey and drop off in Philadelphia, but they wouldn't be allowed to pick up in Philadelphia. "The city of Philadelphia has proven time and time again to be against innovation," the spokesperson added.
To the customer, UberX works the same as Uber. You pull up the Uber app, select UberX, pinpoint your location, and an UberX driver will be dispatched. The app will display the driver's photo, name and license plate number. And also as with Uber, there's no cash or tipping involved, since everything goes onto your registered credit card.
I've used UberX in both New York and Boston, and I have to say that the UberX slogan (above) is true. They really are better, faster, and cheaper than a taxi. But like SideCar, UberX has had its share of legal issues, including in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
It remains to be seen how the various municipalities of South Jersey will deal with UberX, but with the number of friends I have who have received DUIs in the Garden State, UberX sounds like a very good idea.
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