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

In response to Uber and Lyft, the PPA has proposed new rules. Will we finally — or ever — get the world-class taxi fleet we deserve?

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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?

Well, the Philadelphia Parking Authority — the regulative body for the taxi industry in the city — realizes that something has to be done to make our cabs more competitive and less of an eyesore on the Next Great American City.

Last week, the PPA board proposed new rules that will, over time, improve our cabs.

“The authority continues to experience an unwillingness on the part of taxicab owners in Philadelphia to, voluntarily, upgrade and improve the quality of taxicabs,” the PPA declared in its proposed rule-making order. “The riding public continues to endure service in the oldest and most worn vehicles that a taxicab owner can legally get on the road.”

You said it, brother.

Right now, cars with as many as 135,000 miles on them can enter the cab fleet in Philadelphia. The new rules would change that number to just 500. In addition, all medallion cabs would eventually be required to be wheelchair accessible.

The PPA nodded to UberX in its decision:

Illegal service providers have also been drawn to the obvious dearth in affordable quality common carrier transportation in Philadelphia… Not surprisingly, the public has responded favorably to cleaner and better vehicles, more friendly drivers, and the hassle-free use of credit cards.

And although the Uber services have undoubtedly stolen customers away from the cabs, the PPA points out that most taxi companies and drivers still don’t have a clue, writing, “Based on past performance, or lack thereof, the authority has no expectation that the taxicab industry will voluntarily work to save itself.”

If approved by Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission, the changes could start to take hold later this year, according to the PPA.

But while the new rules will certainly improve the quality of new cabs coming into the market, the vast majority of the stinky, old, beat-up cabs currently on the street would be unaffected for a long time — some for as many as eight years, meaning there could be a fledgling human colony on Mars before our cabs are what the city deserves.

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