UberX may technically be illegal in Philadelphia, but that isn’t stopping the ride sharing service.
Drivers were still picking up riders on Friday evening, a day after a judge ordered UberX and Lyft to cease and desist operations in the city.
The order came after a lawsuit filed by Ron Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance, and members of advocacy groups for people with disabilities that said the Philadelphia Parking Authority was not providing equal protection to all car service providers. It also said that, because Uber and Lyft drivers do not have to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, the disabled population as underserved by those groups.
UberX has yet to release a statement on the judge’s ruling. A Lyft spokeswoman told Philly.com that the company was exploring its legal options.
Both UberX and Lyft have soared in popularity in Philadelphia, with Uber serving more than 500,000 riders during the summer of 2016 according to Philly.com.
The injunction wasn’t stopping Philadelphians on Oct. 5.
I personally caught two UberX Pools that night just to make sure they were running. Both times I was the one who informed the UberX driver of the ruling — they had heard nothing from the company regarding it or what to do. It didn’t stop them from continuing their job and we picked up multiple riders as went through the city.
At one point, we were stopped with the windows down and a man yelled at my driver “You an Uber?”
The driver said he was.
“Man, that’s illegal now!” the man replied.
My driver told him to keep it on the down low and they both laughed.
Walking around Philadelphia the overwhelming sentiment was that if taxi companies and PPA wanted to get rid of Uber and Lyft they should create an app for themselves.
“Use it as an influence, but don’t shut it down because they thought of it first,” said Sia Robinson of Olney.
I asked Robinson if she would keep taking Lyft, despite the judge’s ruling. She was decidedly decisive.
“Hell yes!” she exclaimed, “until I get locked up for it I’m going to do it.”
She was shocked when she read about the ruling on Facebook. “I said, ‘Get the hell out of here. Are you serious?'” she recalled. “What am I going to do when I’m stranded? That’s messing with everyone’s lifestyle.”
“This is a city, people are moving all times of the day,” she continued. “People got to go to work, people are partying – I don’t know why they want to take it away.”
Virginia Posey of North Philadelphia uses Lyft all the time. Getting rid of the service would, in her words, “honestly suck a lot.”
“I use Lyft to get around all the time, like if SEPTA isn’t running anymore and I have to get home,” she explained. “And it helps drunk people get home. We need Lyft and Uber.”
For Andre Guichard, having Uber in a city makes a big difference as a traveler. He was visiting Philadelphia from Chicago, and knowing that Uber is around makes him feel comfortable – because he always knows he has a way to get around.
“Uber is one of the most welcomed and needed services not just for Philadelphia, but for every city in the States,” he said. “I can speak as a person, but also as an African American, it’s unfortunate that Uber has filled a void where they’ll go and pick up people everywhere.”
He’s found that Uber has gone to neighborhoods traditionally avoided by cab companies for being seen as too dangerous.
“Most of your Uber drivers are from all neighborhoods, so they’re not afraid to visit and pick up riders,” he said.
Amrit Khalsa was visiting friends in Philadelphia from New York. She was not a fan of taxis.
“They’re really expensive and they’re not around,” she said, adding later “Honestly, they’re behind and if they want to make money and have all these licensing fees then they need to make an app.”
The judge’s ruling against UberX and Lyft could be negated by the state legislature when they reconvene on Oct. 17, supposing the legislature passes. Pittsburgh has fully embraced UberX, which has begun using its fleet of self-driving cars in the city.