DNC a Victory for Ridesharing in Philly?

While it may be too soon to tell, Uber and Lyft are reporting record-breaking demand with few interruptions. Ride-sharing opponents plan protests.

Uber app display during DNC in Philadelphia.

Uber app display during DNC in Philadelphia.

The first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia wasn’t far off from what one would expect when an estimated 50,000 visitors descend upon a city. Bernie Sanders supporters protested from City Hall to South Philly, again, and marijuana legalization advocates marched an anaconda of a joint down Broad Street.

But the hoo-ha didn’t stop ride-sharing companies from racking up profits. After Uber received a 90-day reprieve to operate in Philadelphia at the start of July to the dismay of local cab drivers, both Uber and Lyft are reporting smooth operations Monday following a few hiccups. Lyft is even saying that Philly is seeing the most Lyft drivers it’s ever seen on the road.

“We have thousands of active drivers in Philly, and we’ve seen a major increase in driver activity on the platform, said Adrian Durbin, a spokesman for the company. “More drivers are on the platform and drivers are driving more than they have in the past.”

And unsurprisingly, Durbin says their highest demand points have been at the Philadelphia International Airport, in Center City, at 30th Street Station, and near the Wells Fargo Center.

Durbin says the company saw similar increases in Cleveland, Ohio, last week during the Republican National Convention.

Lyft’s competitor Uber is the DNCC’s official transportation logistics provider, and it started off the weekend with tips for riders.

“We will be working throughout the DNC to ensure that Uber remains the most reliable way for residents and visitors to move around Philadelphia, said Craig Ewer, a spokesman for the Uber. “We encourage everyone to help reduce traffic congestion by sharing their rides on uberPOOL or using Uber to access public transit.”

To bring passengers to the Wells Fargo Center, drivers must be credentialed and it became clear Sunday evening that some drivers didn’t have their paperwork in order.

“We’ve been communicating with drivers so they understand the procedures around the Wells Fargo Center and have made changes already to provide a smoother credentialing process for those seeking to enter the security checkpoint,” said Ewer.

Adding, “We are communicating extensively to drivers through email, text and in-app messages so they recognize the significant earnings opportunity the DNC represents.”

To expand their customer base this week, Lyft, which has operated in Philadelphia for a little over a year, says its brand ambassadors are hitting the streets of Philly to help people download the app and provide new user codes, including the code “DNC,” which provides riders up to $50 off.

Uber is accommodating convention goers with Philadelphia convention maps and an Uber Rider Lounge near the Wells Fargo Center, complete with refreshments and charging stations where passengers can wait for their car.

And for the people that the DNC host committee deems extra special, Uber has created a unique profile for them on the platform through the “Stars and Stripes” program. When a rider uses their special profile, they’ll be connected to the nearest DNCC volunteer driver in a VIP rental car provided by Hertz for the convention.

Cab drivers promised chaos for the DNC and protests to show their distaste for the ride-sharing services that they say, and a judge has ruled, are operating illegally in the city. On Monday night, The Fair Ride Philly Coalition will protest outside of a party Uber will host for delegates in town to bring attention to their fight for a fair wage, according to a Facebook post.

For Philadelphians and visitors taking advantage of the bars open until 4 a.m. and social events following the convention, here’s an evening price check, for travel from Center City to the Wells Fargo Center with uberPool and Lyft’s “Line.”

But then moments later:

Hmm. Better try your luck.

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