Always bet on black – and yellow?
That’s what taxicab and Uber Black drivers are hoping state and local officials will decide after a massive protest today intends to snarl traffic for several blocks surrounding City Hall.
For months now, the city’s cabs and Uber Black drivers have complained about UberX – the lower cost Uber alternative – and Lyft riding-sharing services for not being regulated by the Philadelphia Parking Authority while continuing to operate. Cabs and limousine drivers, however, are required to carry a PPA-issued license.
Ronald Blount, president of the United Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, said he expects between 700 and 1,000 manned Uber Black cars and taxicabs to saturate South Penn Square and the streets around City Hall today (Wednesday) to send a bold message to both the state’s attorney general and the city’s district attorney.
That may be hard to envision, but Blount said he and fellow drivers plan to flood every side street if they have to.
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“They’re continuing to operate illegally,” said Blount.
“The folks in Harrisburg aren’t trying to come up with legislation to make it legal in Philadelphia, and we’re just waiting for lawmakers to come up with something fair for everyone.”
“Uber drivers are independent contractors,” said Jason Post, a spokesman for Uber Technologies, Inc. He had little more to say beyond that.
Marty O’Rourke, a spokesman for the PPA, said, “it’s really not a PPA matter.”
“Every American is entitled to protest. If they want to protest, that’s up to them,” he said.
A spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams declined to comment on the protest – pending the actual demonstration – and so did the mayor.
“We’ve been patient for over a year,” said Blount.
“We’re using this demonstration to ask the lawmakers, the city, the D.A., the police commissioner, the mayor, to restore order in the city, because right now there’s complete anarchy.”
Today’s protest is slated from about noon to 3 p.m. with members of the taxi and limousine drivers union, as well as Uber Black, in participation. Sources say the police department’s civil affairs unit is aware of the event and will monitor it.