(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Hannah Sassaman.)
Today, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. While I’m mildly (to hugely) unprepared for the roller coaster I know will hit when labor starts, my little family of three is excited to grow. One resource I’ve considered tapping for our ride to the hospital — a resource that has entered the scene since my daughter was born — is Uber.
I labored with my daughter through Hurricane Irene in August of 2011. Our neighbors’ leaf-stuffed gutters overflowed through our window casings, bringing the storm into my bedroom as I paced through my contractions. By the time we were ready to go to the hospital, the only bridge left open between my West Philly home and Center City — taking us to Pennsylvania Hospital, more than 40 blocks away — was Chestnut Street. My husband drove at less than 10 miles per hour through the eye of the storm, through quiet, wet, humid streets.
For this round, we’ve been seriously considering skipping the drive and using Uber to get to the hospital. Uber has a killer mobile app, and payments happen automatically. It’s easy to see why the business has been growing exponentially around the world.
But Uber has its own risks for me and other Philadelphians — including marked discrimination against people who use wheelchairs, people with service animals, and, now, pregnant women in labor. Read more »
Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft
If you’re going to be in Philadelphia this weekend, your options for getting around are slim. SEPTA is barely running as of 4 a.m. Saturday, and we expect that the remaining transit services won’t make it through Winter Storm Jonas unscathed. Plus, the city just announced that its bike-sharing service IndeGo will be unavailable — though, really, you’d have to be kind of out of your mind. But if you’re an Uber or Lyft customer, you may be in luck. Drivers for both services are expected to be working throughout the weekend. Read more »
Philadelphia cab driver Arshad Khan in the hospital after the December paintball attack.
The family of a Philadelphia cab driver who was blinded in one eye after a paintball attack has launched an online fundraising page seeking assistance. Read more »
Cab company co-owner Boris Kautsky is taking Uber to federal court. (Photo courtesy Sergei Lemberg)
Back in 1991, Boris and Alla Kautsky left their home in Ukraine and came to the United States as refugees in search of the American dream, eventually settling in Philadelphia where they started their own cab company. But 25 years after arriving in the U.S., they now say that their dream has become a nightmare, and they place the blame squarely on Uber. Through their cab company CoachTrans, the Kautskys have filed a federal lawsuit in Philadelphia against the transportation technology company seeking at least $1.5 million in damages. Read more »
With horns blaring and marchers chanting “No UberX! No Lyft!” hundreds of Philadelphia cab drivers converged on City Hall with their vehicles to demand that laws cab drivers must follow regarding insurance, licensing and training be enforced with the aforementioned ride-sharing services as well. Joining in the protest that snarled lunchtime traffic for blocks around City Hall were drivers for UberBLACK, the limousine service that uses the same sharing technology as UberX but which is regulated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority as the cabs are. Read more »
My UberX driver alternates between texting and eating her ice cream sundae.
When, in October of last year, Uber announced that its cheaper-than-a-taxi UberX service was finally available in Philadelphia, most of us were delighted. In addition to being significantly less expensive than Philly’s cabs, UberX was also significantly better. Read more »
The cab-stealing suspect and one of his new cars. (Philadelphia Police)
In a nine-day period, the Philadelphia Police Department says that the man seen here stole eight Philadelphia taxicabs, all of them bearing the “215-GET-A-CAB” logo. Read more »
Photograph by Jeff Fusco
Good news, Philly! You’re getting more taxis!
Not-so-good news, Philly! You’re only getting three of them.
KYW reports that — months after they first went up for auction — the Philadelphia Parking Authority has sold three taxicab medallions, which are needed to operate cabs in the city. When they first went up for auction in the fall, the PPA had authority to sell 45 of the medallions, part of an effort to expand the number of wheelchair-accessible cabs in the city. Read more »
Photo | Jeff Fusco
It was a banner weekend for allegedly drunk motorists in Philadelphia. First, we learned about the police officer caught driving on three flat tires. And now comes word of a suburban cab driver who led police on a wild chase from Penn’s Landing while allegedly under the influence. Read more »
The taxi business apparently isn’t what it used to be in Philadelphia.
The Pennsylvania Parking Authority in May will start selling cab medallions — the licenses required to own and operate a cab in the city — starting at $50,000 for a minimum bid. That might sound like a lot, but it pales compared to the $475,000 per medallion that the PPA tried (and failed) to sell just last fall.
PPA’s “General Counsel Dennis Weldon says there were concerns about the cost of making cabs accessible, which the medallions required, and competition from ride share services,” KYW reports, “so the authority is starting a new process with a minimum bid of $50,000.” Read more »