Opinion: Uber Discriminates Against Pregnant Women

Uber Pregnant

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(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 »

Uber, Lyft Not Shutting Down During Coming Blizzard

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

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 »

Check Out Uber’s New Southwest Philly Office

Uber entrance

(Photo courtesy of Uber.)

Uber has opened a new office in Southwest Philly, which will help to better serve the company’s approximately 12,000 drivers in the region, according to Technical.ly Philly. The building is located about 10 miles north of the Philadelphia International Airport.

“With ample free parking and proximity to the airport, the new Partner Support Center was designed foremost to meet drivers’ needs,” Philadelphia General Manager Jon Feldman told Technical.ly. Read more »

Philly Cab Company Sues Uber for “Destroying” Taxi Business

Cab company co-owner Boris Kautsky is taking Uber to federal court.

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 »

Uber Lowers Prices in 100 Cities, but Not Philly

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Uber has announced that it’s lowering prices in 100 cities in the United States and Canada — but Philadelphia isn’t one of them.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on why Philadelphia wasn’t included in the price drop. A quick check on the app reveals that prices are the same today as they were before the announcement. For UberX that’s a $1.25 base fare, plus $0.18 per minute, plus $1.10 per mile with a minimum fare of $5.25 and a safe rides fee of $1.25. For UberBLACK, it’s $7 plus total travel time with a $15 minimum fare.

Uber said in a blog post that it’s rolling back prices in many areas due to slower demand in the winter months. Read more »

Luxe Valet is “Pausing” Service in Philadelphia

Luxe has arrived in Philly.

Say goodbye to Luxe Valet in Philly. The company vows to return.

Any startup leader will tell you that if you’re going to fail — fail fast.

Armed with a sleek smartphone app and a team of drivers dressed in blue jackets, Luxe Valet is attempting to be the Uber of valet parking. It launched in Philadelphia in August to much fanfare, but is halting operations here on January 1. It’s also taking a pause in Boston.

Here’s how it works: Drivers pick up your car anywhere and store it in a secure lot. Later, a Luxe driver will deliver your car back to you — even if you’re in a different location. The company says it costs about $5 per hour. Read more »

WATCH: Noisy Taxi Cab Protest of UberX, Lyft Snarls Center City Traffic

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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 »

Uber, Lyft Drivers Can Now Unionize in Seattle. Could Philly Be Next?

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Seattle has become the first American city to pass an ordinance allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize.

As is the standard in the sharing or gig economy, Uber and Lyft drivers work as independent contractors — giving them flexible schedules but not company-paid health care or retirement benefits. If they were in unions, they can presumably negotiate wages and benefits with their respective companies.

“We’ve heard from Seattle drivers making sub-minimum wage, and companies like Uber have turned a deaf ear to their concerns. This bill was only introduced out of necessity after witnessing how little power drivers themselves had in working for a living wage,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, in a statement. Read more »

It’s Almost Christmas. Should You Tip Your Uber Driver?

I like to consider myself a pretty good tipper.

Then again, I suspect tipping is like sex and dancing — everyone walks through this world thinking they’re bringing something special to the table, when in reality they’re just not screwing it up royally enough to be publicly shamed.

So perhaps I’m an average tipper with the occasional flash of inspiration given the right lighting. Either way, I know how things work.

As a follower of the golden rule (“Tip everyone who could poison you or make you ugly”), I never leave a restaurant, bar stool or salon chair without handing over at least 20 percent. I understand that a delivery charge isn’t a tip, just as I understand that my dog groomer risked her life to tie that cute little ribbon around Murph’s neck. Around the holidays, I add a little extra across the board and leave a card for the mail carrier like a good Northeast girl.

And yet, I didn’t tip my Uber driver the other night. He was probably the most pleasant person I had interacted with all day, his car was immaculate, and he waited for me to get in the door before waving and driving off. Short of calling my mom, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Why yes, it did feel weird. Read more »

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