Make a Shark Tank-style Pitch in an Uber on Friday

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Getting 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to pitch an idea to a venture capitalist has quite a bit of value. So does a free Uber ride. Put them together and you have UberPITCH.

If you request an Uber on Friday between noon and 4 p.m., your car might show up carrying the likes of Josh Kopelman (First Round Capital founder) or Philip Moyer (Safeguard Scientifics senior vice president). Read more »

UberX Hits One Million Rides in Region, Still Illegal in Philadelphia

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Uber’s low-cost, cheaper-than-a-cab UberX service may have its naysayers — including the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which maintains that the service is still very much illegal — but according to statistics just released by the company, Philadelphians certainly seem to be using the service. On Tuesday, Uber’s corporate office announced that UberX has hit one million rides in Philadelphia since its formal debut in October 2014. The company is counting any ride that originated in the five-county area. Read more »

Buy This App and Never Talk to Your Child Again!

When I wrote a few years back about the precipitous drop-off in the number of young men getting driver’s licenses, Uber was just beginning to get off the ground. I didn’t know enough about it to even consider that it might be a factor in the decline of the American male love affair with cars. Time flies; this week the New York Times reported that nowadays, instead of nagging their parents to take them for their driver’s tests and buy them Mustangs when they reach majority, kids are asking for their own Uber accounts.

As a parent, I’m of two minds about this. Considering how dangerous teen driving was even before the invention of cell phones and selfies, having anyone else but my kid behind the wheel when he heads out to a party or concert seems like a great idea. On the other hand, what’s next? Start-ups that come to your house and get you dressed? Hold your fork to your mouth? Read more »

The Price of a Philadelphia Taxi Medallion Keeps on Dropping

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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 »

No More Stinky, Old, Beat Up Cabs for Philadelphia?

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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 »

Uber Helping PPA Bust UberX Drivers

An UberX car getting impounded by the PPA.

An UberX car getting impounded by the PPA. Photo | Courtesy of the PPA

Two weeks ago, UberX drivers in the Philadelphia area received an email from Uber HQ telling them that if they wanted to remain Uber “partners,” they needed to comply with some new requirements. First, they would have to get a special PennDOT safety inspection. And second, they would need to display an Uber decal on their car. Read more »

Lyft Has Launched in Philadelphia — Is it Any Different From Uber?

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

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

Ride-hailing app Lyft launched in Philadelphia on Friday evening, and it went generally as expected: As the taxi association warned, the PPA conducted sting operations. The authority impounded a vehicle after a sting operation that began in Fishtown and ended at the Airport (where at least it would be easy for the driver to hop on SEPTA or hire a licensed taxi). The PPA cited another driver, a licensed limo driver who responded to a Lyft request.

Despite Lyft’s illegality, people will still use the service in Philadelphia as an UberX alternative. I used Lyft over the weekend, and also used it before it launched in Philadelphia for a ride to the airport when I was in Miami. A few thoughts on how it compares to Uber from my limited sample.

Read more »

City Council: We Want UberX, Lyft

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With ride-hailing service Lyft scheduled to launch today at 6 p.m. to compete with UberX, City Council yesterday passed a resolution that states in no uncertain terms that the city would like to see such services legal in Philadelphia.

When UberX launched here in October, chaos ensued, as the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates taxi and limousine service in the city and considers such services illegal, impounded several cars of UberX drivers. The mayor urged peace; the president of the Pennsylvania Taxi Association compared UberX to Isis; the PPA suggested that drivers for the sanctioned Uber black-car service rat out UberX drivers; and things have been uneasy ever since.

Read more »

Lyft Is Launching in Philadelphia on Friday

Photo via Lyft

Photo via Lyft

Ride-hailing service Lyft announced today that it will launch its service in Philadelphia on Friday, January 30th. The company had been advertising for drivers in Philadelphia this month.

Lyft is the chief competitor to Uber. Lyft is not a premium “black car” service — it is more like UberX, where passengers get rides in cars that generally aren’t luxury vehicles. Lyft has rolled out a premium service in some areas. In anticipation of the rollout of Lyft, UberX lowered its prices by 35 percent a few days ago.

The service begins at 6 p.m. Friday. To use it, you’ll need the Lyft app.

Read more »

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