PPA Impounds UberX Vehicles in Undercover Sting Operation

The Philadelphia Parking Authority makes good on its promise.

ppa-vs-uber-940x540

[UPDATE] Uber has issued a statement calling the PPA sting a “deplorable charade.”

[ORIGINAL] On Saturday, we told you that Uber had announced the arrival of UberX — the cheaper version of Uber — in Philadelphia proper and that the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates all cabs and limousines in the city, was none too happy about it. “We will impound the vehicle,” a PPA investigator told us when asked if the PPA would be conducting an undercover sting similar to the one that kicked car service SideCar out of the city in 2013. And by Saturday night, the PPA made it clear that the agency wasn’t messing around.

An undercover sting on Saturday resulted in the impoundment of five vehicles operating under the UberX service. If you’re wondering what a PPA undercover sting operation looks like, a plainclothes PPA investigator pulls out a smartphone and requests an UberX car just like you would and then delivers the bad news after the pickup occurs.

“I almost felt sorry for two of the drivers,” says a senior PPA official, explaining that the drivers seemed to think that what they were doing was perfectly legal. “They both had the same exact story that they were told it was legal and that everything would be fine.”

If the UberX drivers want their cars back, they will have to pay the PPA a fine of $1,000 plus towing costs, or they can request a hearing, which could occur as early as Monday.

“What they are doing is illegal,” says the PPA source. “And until somebody tells me otherwise, our guys will be on the street to enforce the law.”

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

Around The Web


Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • RonnyK737

    The people need to speak up and let the PPA know we want UberX and Lyft!

    • Presbyton

      UberX could have bid on a taxi medallion

      • james

        And charge customers more. no way Uber on

        • Presbyton

          UberX is a taxi service. Should I be able to open up a bar without paying for a liquor license?

          • RonnyK737

            In a free country, you should be…

          • Presbyton

            Then the city will be overrun with bars on every corner. I don’t know of a single major city that does not mandate liquor licenses and taxi medallions. Not to mention the revenue these things bring in. More money for taxi medallions is less taxes for the rest of us.

          • Eric the Red

            This city does have bars on every corner…

          • Presbyton

            No, it does not, that’s some obvious hyperbole.

          • Eric the Red

            Ahh… I didn’t realize you were in a chamber.

          • Herring

            Yes, they’re another unnecessary interference, allowing bureaucrats to impose their opinion of how things should be on the common person.

      • NJLIMO

        Uber has 18 BILLION in the bank….18 B ….Billion. Why wouldn’t they purchase a medallion for a million dollars ????? It would be a no brainer. Do things like the legal companies do…..WHY DON’T THEY ?? Because that is not their business model. They are skirting the laws at the poor drivers expense. Please open your eyes.

        • T G

          No, uber has an inflated value of 18B, in reality it is far less. Read the reports, a companies valuation has no relation to what it has in cash.
          Soon the shine and “cool” factor will wear off with the gross overcharging, and horror stories from passengers being kidnapped, to drivers beating passengers almost to death with a hammer.

        • 95 Sports Guy

          18 billion valuation is not the same as 18 billion in the bank.

    • Mom rebaka

      What about this limos cabs run by Dominican company are they legal you call and they pick u up and cost 10.00 each way as far as u want to go I took one to airport cost me only 12.00?

      • LàTrinius Washington

        This article racist against President Obama.

        • RonnyK737

          Ha, nice. I hope this is a joke, because it’s funny…

      • RonnyK737

        What’s the name of this company, I’d love to use them!

    • DB Cooper

      Why would you ever ride in an uninsured vehicle??? Uber has NO commercial insurance!

      • RonnyK737

        You don’t have to, that’s the beauty of CHOICE. And the free market. There ya go!

      • 95 Sports Guy

        This is an absolute falsehood. Uber drivers are under their personal insurance until a passenger gets into the car, and then they are covered under Uber’s commercial policy.

        • From Philly with love

          research their insurance policy with james river, it is not a yes/no questions & answer here.

        • NJLIMO

          NOT TRUE !

      • james

        Uber carries master 1 million policy on rides

      • Hi, please educate yourself.

        • Pingleton

          – says the entrepreneur, self-starter, winner – and pompous tool. lol

      • Sean Ali

        The drivers are using their personal INSURED vehicles – duh

        • 95 Sports Guy

          personally insured vehicles until a passenger gets in, then it’s Uber’s policy first, personal insurance as a backup

        • NJLIMO

          Sean, you do not know what you are talking about. PERSONAL INSURANCE is just for that. Personal. Not business

    • no we don’t

  • Sherri Nicole

    The ppa = extortion. But if we are careless enough to keep feeding that greedy baby then we can’t be upset when it throws a fit

  • Joe Blow

    Uber is to taxis what Urban Outfitters is to fashion.

    • Dave

      Ummm…

    • bingeboy

      I heard Uber runs philly.

    • Eleo

      What does that even mean? Is that good or bad?

    • ahyes0

      What a dumb post.

  • ppaistheworst

    That’s not how the american justice system works. Something is legal until an act is passed and it is codified explicitly illegal. Regulatory bodies, particularly those involved within municipalities, like to pretend that their permission is required prior to action. Just because they are responsible for enforcement, doesn’t mean that a criminal or regulatory rule has been codified… Way to limit consumer choice and remind everyone what clowns you are.

    • ppaistheworst

      Edit: The burden is on the PPA to challenge them ride sharing as within their regulatory capacity via court order (injunction). They can’t go out and begin confiscating civilian cars – until authorized by the court.//

  • boonam

    My cousin just had a son, and he uses Lyft to make extra money between shifts to support his family. Laws like this a a clear attack on the little guy, plain and simple.

    • NJLIMO

      Your cousin’s son is a law breaker. Plain and simple. He is not licensed, nor does he have the proper insurance. He does not have to pass a background check nor does he submit to random drug testing like the limo & taxi industry. I can hire a kid to do handyman work. Great kid, but its not legal !

  • pitbullstew

    po-po billion dollar silicon valley venture capitalists throw’in a hissy fit fer being told no? pricless.

    • hegel5000

      More like average people who want to get into the taxi business without a bunch of beaurocracy and cronyism are throwing a hissy fit.

      It’s a sad day when venture capitalists from are another state are more in touch with us than our own government.

  • Devon Cade

    PPA MUST BE THE MAFIA

    • unten

      Or the government entity charged with overseeing the taxi industry.

  • Tommy Grover

    Besides paying for it, UberX is different from hitchhiking how? We all know how safe hitchhiking is, why not just stick your thumb out?

    • Samcrut

      Both parties are known in a ride sharing transaction. The driver has been through a background check and all of their contact info is on file. The passenger’s credit card is on file and used for payment, so their contact info is also known. Muggers don’t usually make sure everybody knows who and where they are before they go on a spree. Hitchhiking is anonymous.

  • OG

    Everyone needs to sign the petition: https://action.uber.org/PA/

  • sworddance

    If it is against the law, it is against the law. Just because Uber and friends want that not to be the case, doesn’t make Uber any less against the law.

    Uber is always welcome to litigate the issue if Uber feels otherwise.

    The real question: is Uber going to pay the towing and fines that these drivers have just now incurred, or are they going to let the drivers pay for Uber’s arrogance?

    • mickloud

      Totally agree. Could you pinpoint and remind me the state law or local statue prohibiting Uber? I always lose my place.

    • TRITONE2

      By the way :

      Insurance woes could ground hundreds of Phila. taxis
      More than 25 percent of Philadelphia taxis may be forced off the streets by Friday evening for lack of adequate insurance coverage, the Philadelphia Parking Authority said Thursday.

  • mickloud

    So, government thugs confiscate private property because they feel like it and tell the owner that THEY’RE the ones breaking the law. Absolutely adorable.

  • TRITONE2

    the PPA , Philadelphias finest in corruption ..look at the latest headlines :

    New Corruption Charges Against Former Phila. Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes

  • Kevin

    Given that UberX was free throughout the weekend, I’m curious how what the drivers was doing was any more illegal than giving a friend a ride? No payment passed from the rider to the driver (obviously the drivers were paid by Uber, but I’m not sure that should be considered the same).

  • Good.

  • james

    City officials are a disgrace to take average Joes` cars like this. People love the uber and lyft car services

  • narg

    Once we suffered from crime, now we suffer from laws…
    PPA needs to get over itself. This is an obvious over use of government power.

  • Britt

    Sign the petition if you believe we need UberX https://action.uber.org/PA/

  • Ashley Miller

    Friends! http://www.lyftvsuber.com/ compares the two most popular ride-sharing services. $30 of FREE ride credit for new passengers and up to a $250 sign-up BONUS for new drivers!! Drivers can make as much as $40/hr! Hope you can see what all the hype is about :) Thanks!!!!~

  • Philatonian

    Copying Uber’s app technology to automate its dispatch service would be a minimal cost to the PPA. Get in line or get off the road.

  • Joe

    I would drag that ppa rental cop out of my car and drive away

  • Sean Ali

    Yet another reason why the PPA should be abolished.

  • ldgjl

    Maybe the law is ripe for change?

  • tonyb

    PPA is the most greedy organization on the planet and, Philadelphia has the filthiest cabs of any major city.

  • Philatonian

    So let me get this straight, the PPA is allowed to impound its competition?

  • thepoisonousmushroom

    uber’s whole game now is to offer riders fares that are so low that
    only a math-challenged moron or truly desperate person would provide
    services in THEIR personal automobile for less than minimum wage.

    They are STEALING the auto equity, insurance and gas money of their
    “partners” under the guise of employment

    Whatever the driver “earns” is lost in gasoline and auto depreciation.

    Expect service levels to COLLAPSE in the very near future.

    Free water and gum? Open the door? Clean car? Help with your luggage?

    Not at these rates.

    Passengers are now LUCKY if anyone shows up at all.

    Especially for the short trips.
    Think you can pay drivers to drive their own cars 50% less than taxi
    cab fares and maintain any level of service whatsoever?

    Think drivers will safely and happily pickup your brats from school
    for 3 dollars?

    Or take you to dca or union station for 8 dollars?

    In MY CAR?

    Think again.

    Stay out of MY car, you cheap, self entitled bum.

    Take a bus.

    Riders will soon be lucky to find a driver with a 4* rating and the
    quality and cleanliness of the cars will soon rival those of taxicabs.

    You will get what you pay for.

    The riders and uber are now HATED and RESENTED by the drivers as a
    result of uber’s sadistic attitude towards its “partners”.

    These criminals are such despicable cowards that they have no physical address.

    You won’t meet a nastier collection of sociopaths than uber management
    and investors outside of a prison

    • Baloo

      Right on the mark here. Uber pays its drivers dirt…and people complain that they want it here when it undercuts the decent living of the people who actually do drive taxicabs in the city.

      • Tim

        Maybe you should look into what a taxi driver gets paid (minus what the taxi company takes from them for the privilege to drive). They probably could make more with UberX.

  • Josh Weinstein

    I lived in downtown Chicago (before Uber) and I took a lot of cabs. There were some good drivers and taxis out there, to be sure. But many of the taxis were falling apart, uncomfortable and foul-smelling. Some of the drivers were people on the margins of society: rude, non-English speaking, smelly, obnoxious and/or drove like psychopaths.

    Although I have moved and have not used Uber, my friends in Chicago swear by it. It is far more efficient, the cars are usually clean and odor free, the drivers speak at least basic English and don’t drive like madmen.

    Why? Because the taxi medallion owners lease out their cabs to whomever is
    willing to work 15 hours a day to make a living. And that is usually either recent immigrants or people who have few other options. Uber has made it more realistic for divers to earn a decent living, so they have attracted better employees.

    Add to that a more efficient system of dispatching cars and you have a winner. Uber and the taxi companies will duke it out, but I would be VERY AFRAID to be an investor in taxi medallions these days.

  • Ralph

    Uber r not angels.they r the old owners of taxi cabs medaillons that they have sold most of them to other ppl for more than half million each l.they know how much money are circulating in this business.all what they care for is the 20% to 30 % they take off the drivers which is way more than what the drivers r charged for