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 »
Anyone (okay, almost anyone) who rides taxicabs in Philadelphia with any frequency knows that compared to other major cities, our cabs are pretty terrible, which is part of the reason that services like Uber, UberX and Lyft are so damn popular here. Why on earth would you want to take a dirty old cab when these newfangled car services are so convenient, modern and clean? Read more »
If the taxi I’m in gets into a fender-bender, do I still have to pay the fare? — D.W., Northern Liberties
The Public Utilities Commission, which regulates taxis in Philadelphia, doesn’t have a rule for this particular situation. But assuming you’re unhurt, you’re governed by the same rules you always are in a taxi. In other words, has the driver taken you to your intended destination? If so, pay the fare. If you’re five blocks away and the two drivers are still swapping insurance info, dust yourself off, pay what you owe, and get another taxi — or just walk, for God’s sake. Not that I do, mind you, but I hear it’s good exercise. Read more »
Uber was sued in federal court yesterday by 45 Philadelphia cab companies. In the lawsuit, the cab companies allege Uber conspired to operate a taxi service without obtaining medallions.
At issue is the company’s UberX service, which launched in late October. The service is illegal in Philadelphia, which led to a PPA sting operation where UberX cars were impounded.
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At a Philadelphia Parking Authority board meeting Wednesday, Pennsylvania Taxi Association President compared UberX to ISIS.
“I try to equate this illegal operation of UberX as a terroristic act like ISIS invading the Middle East,” Alex Friedman said at the meeting, which was recorded by Plan Philly. “It is exactly the same menace.”
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In the first two installments of our new anonymous interview feature The Real Deal, we spoke with a Philadelphia police officer and a SEPTA driver. In this latest edition, a 43-year-old cab driver with Quaker City Cab tells us what it’s like being behind the wheel in Philadelphia seven days a week. Read more »
For as much as I avoid driving and exercise, I take a cab maybe once a month. Although most tend to think that this is the safest option for a single woman on her way home, at the risk of sounding like a paranoid cat lady, I’ve always thought that getting in a stranger’s car is a convenient way to end up in a stranger’s trunk.
Personally, I just feel safer on the El or the Green Line, where we have seemingly made a city-wide contract to be as weird as humanly possible during our time together, but to do so fairly harmlessly. (That is, when we aren’t attacking each other with hammers or kicking each other’s teeth in. I get it — it’s flawed logic, but it’s working for me.)
Would I feel differently if I was in New York, where SheRides is scheduled to roll out this week? Probably. An Uber-like cab service, SheRides (renamed from SheTaxi due to regulations in NYC) exclusively employs female drivers, who exclusively pick up female passengers. The idea is two-fold: Employ more women in an industry long-dominated by men, and make customers feel at ease — whether it’s religious or cultural norms that prevent them from getting into a cab with a man, or having seen too many Quentin Tarantino films.
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A state review body on Thursday approved a city plan to install cameras in every single taxi cab operating in Philadelphia.
The plan, proposed by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, would affect 5,000 workers, medallion owners, and dispatchers. The system would let drivers hit a “panic” button to transmit live video to dispatchers and the PPA — a safety measure intended to deter a wave of violence against drivers.
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Philadelphia Weekly reports that the PPA wants to respond to a wave of violence against taxi drivers by installing a surveillance camera in every single cab in town.
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Photograph by Jeff Fusco
Early one morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a few months ago, I hopped in a cab and asked the driver to take me to Logan Airport, eight miles away. He asked me how to get there. That was the first bad sign. The second bad sign was that he abruptly changed his mind about needing my help and decided to chart the course himself. Thirty minutes later, we were still in the car, making a beeline for Rhode Island. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Not long before, another out-to-lunch driver had piloted the trip to Logan at a pace so slow, I actually had to check to see if he was awake.
The point of all this is not that Boston-area cabdrivers are horrific. It’s my anecdotal “Exhibit A” in the case of Simon van Zuylen-Wood v. All the Delusional Philadelphians Who Don’t Appreciate Their Fantastic Taxis. Bitching about cabs in Philly is roughly on par with Yay, the Shore and Boo, Phillies when it comes to broad, unspecific elevator-ride utterances nobody will ever disagree with.
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