While City Arrests Uber Drivers, Philly Mayor Comes Out In Support Of Service

uberxHere in Philadelphia, the dispute between cab regulators and the Uber ridesharing service has gotten ugly, with the city arresting and fining numerous drivers over the weekend. Given this response to Uber, you’d think Philly Mayor Michael Nutter would be calling for the service to exit the city. But instead he’s calling for a truce.

“I am supportive of them being here, legally, operating within requirements of the law,” explained the mayor earlier today in the wake of at least six weekend arrests of Uber drivers.

They were accused of “aiding and abetting an unlicensed taxicab service,” and were each fined $1,000 and had their vehicles impounded.

“Ultimately what this is all really about is customer service, innovation, being able to get a ride from point A to point B, get there quickly and safely,” says Nutter.

To stop the arrests by the Philadelphia Parking Authority, Uber has asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to grant it emergency authority to operate in Philadelphia and the surrounding area.

Uber’s Uber Black service already operates in compliance with PPA rules in the city, but the Authority has not taken kindly to the launch of the less-formal UberX service in Philly. After months of warnings and cease-and-desists, the PPA made good on its threat to arrest and fine drivers.

Nutter expressed concern that the PPA’s response to Uber is motivated by the Authority’s desire to protect the value of taxi medallions, which sell for at least $500,000.

“Philly is a big city and should have as many quality transportation options as possible,” he explained, saying that some sort of compromise could be reached that doesn’t “negatively affect those who have paid a lot of money for their medallion, but also not freeze out other Philadelphians who want to use their own vehicle, have it properly inspected, properly registered, properly insured, background checks, all those the things have to be in place.”

Uber is currently paying the fines for drivers who are arrested by the PPA and says it will continue to provide the service while it waits for a response from the state’s Public Utility Commission.

However, the PPA executive director says that UberX is no different than a cab service and that the PPA maintains that has the sole authority to regulate it.

[via Philly.com]