The PPA Has Won the War Against Sidecar

Sidecar, the “car-sharing” service that paired taxi-hating customers with rando drivers, has ceased to operate in Philadelphia. Since February, when the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) shut it down after an actual sting operation, it’s been locked in a battle with the city, which claims SideCar vehicles are essentially an illegal, unregulated, uninspected taxi service. After a few months of wrangling, SideCar has now pulled out of its first-ever East Coast location.

So, what’s the narrative here? Rogue start-up trying to cut costs, blow through red tape, and flout the law? Or innovation-stifling bureaucrats loathe to upset the established order? Either way, the “sharing economy” that has given us Airbnb and Zipcar isn’t quite ready to revolutionize Philly. [Newsworks]

Property’s Morning Obsession: Perfection in a Parking Meter

Last week’s CBS3 headline read: “PPA Plans To Keep Old School Meters In Most Philadelphia Neighborhoods.” The good news? That means most neighborhoods won’t have to master those inscrutable kiosks that reject fully 50 percent of the dollar bills you own. The bad news? The words “old school” are a bit of an understatement.

Over at Yanko Design, where builders and inventors launch prototypes and get feedback, DCA Design International has developed this parking meter, which looks phenomenal. As Yanko’s Radhika Seth put it, “We need this parking meter NOW!” I would argue Seth hasn’t seen parking meter need until he’s been to Philly.

This meter, called ParkD, has a lot of the same features the Philadelphia kiosks do, only made better, and with smartphone sync. And the aesthetics, well, they speak for themselves.

We need this parking meter NOW!

WATCH: PPA Video Touts Benefits Of Red Light Cameras

This is a pretty straightforward video about the benefits of red light cameras in Philly, put out today by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Mostly, though, it’s awesome for the epic music at the beginning, which signals that the city is preparing for an invasion. “They can take our license plates! But they can’t have our red light cameraaaaaaas!” Or something.

PPA adds: “The first cameras were installed at Grant Avenue, Red Lion Road and Cottman Avenue along Roosevelt Boulevard. Since the program’s inception, cameras have also been installed at 34th Street and Grays Ferry Avenue, Broad Street and Oregon Avenue, Broad Street and Hunting Park Avenue, 58th and Walnut Streets, Broad and Vine Streets, Broad Street and South Penn Square, Broad Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard around City Hall, Henry Avenue and Walnut Lane, Rising Sun and Adams Avenues, Aramingo Avenue and York Street, Aramingo and Castor Avenues, and Lindbergh Boulevard and Island Avenue. There are also cameras at Welsh, Southampton, Mascher, Levick, Rhawn and 9th Streets along Roosevelt Boulevard. The most recent red light camera intersections are located at Academy Road and Grant Avenue, Woodhaven and Knights Roads, and Bustleton Avenue and Byberry Road. Philadelphia’s Red Light Camera Program was recently extended until 2017.”

Forget Cabs and Uber: Free SideCar Rides All Weekend [Updated]

For an update to this story, scroll to the bottom.

On Monday, we broke the news that the Philadelphia Parking Authority shut down new “ride-sharing” service SideCar over the weekend in a sting operation, with PPA spokesperson Marty O’Rourke telling us that the San Francisco-based company was operating here “illegally.”

Nonsense, claimed SideCar CEO Sunil Paul, who said in response that Philadelphia’s “defenders of the status quo aren’t quite on board yet” with his “progressive” service, which landed $10 million in venture capital last year, including a wad of Google Ventures cash.

SideCar said that the company wouldn’t cave to the PPA and that it was still operational here, although with service only available on weekends during its introductory period in Philadelphia, it would be five days before we could find out if their threats of defiance were real or just chest-thumping.

Well, here it is Friday, and we have our answer. Sort of.

This morning, a SideCar attorney met with the PPA, which has jurisdiction over all cabs and limos, to plead the company’s case. The result, says two PPA sources: SideCar intends to operate in Philadelphia this weekend without collecting fares or, as the company puts it, “suggested donations.” According to PPA spokesperson O’Rourke, “They’ve agreed to remove any requirement to use a credit card or charge for any form of compensation. And they’ve agreed to promote their service as a free service on their website.”

Of course, you can tip the drivers, right? Nope, says O’Rourke. “A tip is something that you give for a service,” he explains. “We consider a tip a fare. And we’ll be monitoring the situation tonight to make sure SideCar is in compliance with the law, and if they are not, cars will be impounded.”

A SideCar spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for information, although CEO Paul has started a petition demanding that the PPA support “ride-sharing” here.

So do you want a free SideCar ride in Philadelphia this weekend? Download the SideCar app here. And remember, no tipping!

Update 3/1/2013 8:15 p.m.: After an early dinner, I just took a SideCar from Center City to Overbrook, which normally costs about $20 in a cab, plus tip. The SideCar showed up within 5 minutes of my request, and there was no fare or “suggested donation”. The app actually explained that this was a “free ride.” My friendly driver explained that he was being paid $15-per-hour by SideCar and added, “The PPA just wants to get paid.” So enjoy the free rides while you can.

Better Parking Means Less Money for PPA

CBS Philly reports that the Philadelphia Parking Authority is expecting to collect $4 million less in revenue this year. “PPA executive director Vince Fennerty says fewer drivers are breaking the parking rules, resulting in fewer tickets. And he says the new parking kiosks in Center City and University City have made it easier to comply, since you can pay by credit card or dollar bills. “Over the last several years there has been more compliance with parking regulations in Philadelphia.” More people are paying at kiosks. More people are parking legally, not parking at hydrants, or double parking and parking at no-stopping zones. So, naturally more compliance means less tickets.” That revenue decline is steep: the Authority predicts a payment to the city next year of $43.6 million dollars, compared to $47.4 million expected in the current year.”

PPA Sting Operation Shuts Down New Google-Backed “Ride Share” Service SideCar [Updated]

(Update: Scroll to the bottom for a response from SideCar CEO Sunil Paul and an official comment from a PPA spokesperson.)

This morning, I was planning on writing a review of SideCar, the San Francisco-based “ride share” service that debuted in Philadelphia two weekends ago. As a loather of Philadelphia’s, er, crappy taxi cabs, I’m always interested in an alternative, and I’m big fan of Philadelphia car service Uber. But on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Parking Authority shut SideCar down, and I’m not the least bit surprised. Read more »

Missing Radnor Teen Found

Missing Radnor Teen Found in D.C. Savanna MacMullett, 13, had left home Monday afternoon with a 20-year-old Virginia man she met online. After a tip from someone who saw them at 30th Street Station, the couple were taken into custody as they stepped off a Mega Bus in the capital last night. [NBC Philadelphia]

Sombrero-Clad Sorority Girls at Penn State Busted for Racist Party. The costumes at  Chi Omega Nu’s Halloween bash were already questionable, but signs the students are holding in a  leaked pic — “Will  Mow Lawn for Weed + Beer” and “I Don’t Cut Grass, I Smoke It” — are making a chapter suspension look likely. [Gawker]

It Seems There’s a Musical, Theatrical, Hobbitical, Santastical Extravaganza at LOVE Park Tonight. I think they’re lighting some sort of tree, too. [NBC Philadelphia]

Judge Reopens Suit on Prison Overcrowding. Philadelphia’s prison system — built to hold 6,500 inmates — now stands at more than 9,400. [NewsWorks]

Councilman Wants to Make It Harder for Neighborhoods to Get Resident Permit Parking. Because he apparently doesn’t want to be reelected. [Daily News]

Temple’s Football Coach Leaves for Boston College. In his two years, Steve Addazio compiled a 13-11 record and won a bowl game, only the fourth one Temple had ever played in. [Inquirer]


Philadelphia Parking Authority Issues Parking Ticket to Supreme Court Justice Scalia

It looks like even SCOTUS justices aren’t safe from the wrath of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was at the Union League around lunchtime on Monday when the PPA spotted his car and wrote him a ticket. He received the ticket despite the fact that he had a Philadelphia official police business placard on his dashboard because the PPA is the honey badger of Philadelphia. Scalia was at the Union League to discuss the interpretation of legal texts at the Philadelphia Lawyers Chapter of The Federalist Society. He also signed some books. [Constitution Daily]

Mayor Nutter Vetoes Parking Surcharge, Finnigan’s Wake Expansion

Mayor Nutter has vetoed a bill that would have allowed Finnigan’s Wake—the NoLibs joint owned by Democratic committeeman Mike Driscoll—to expand. The proposal would have let Driscoll add balconies above the sidewalk on Spring Garden. Mayor Nutter also vetoed a bill that would have added a surcharge to parking tickets, sponsored by City Councilman Mark Squilla, because the proceeds wouldn’t have gone to the Philadelphia School District, which would have violated a state law. [Daily News]

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