Uber PA's general manager calls PPA 'a broken system'
Last year, Raymond Reyes, a 25 year veteran in the army, retired. Searching for something new to hold him over he was first introduced to Uber when visiting his brother in New York City when he was traveling from the JFK airport.
He recalled his story earlier at a Uber press conference in response to the targeting of ridesharing by the Philadelphia Parking Association (PPA). Mostly brought to light after yesterday’s Philadelphia Daily News article.
“I realized that for me, driving for Uber would be the perfect way to get out of the house to see the city and meet new people,” Reyes said.
Reyes signed up to join the popular ridesharing service and everything seemed to be going well, he said, until one day in Center City he received a trick request.
Two riders, wearing plain clothes, jumped into the back seat making Reyes suspicious. The riders, Reyes said, were seemingly staging a conversation that centered around bashing the PPA and making sure Reyes could hear every word.
“They had me drive up to Northeast Philly and once I got to the destination once I unlocked the door, immediately they ran out of the car,” Reyes said. “A third person a tall person opened my passenger side door and tried to take my keys out of the ignition. At that moment I thought I was being car jacked. I was about to defend myself but when I saw a Philadelphia Police Officer come up to my driver side window with her hand upon her holster she told me to cease and desist.”
At that point, Reyes’ Uber phone along with his personal phone had been taken. He was told by the officer that his car was being impounded and that he would not be able to drive. Reyes said that he pleaded for his phone back and to be dropped off at the nearest bus stop.
His phone was given back but he was left stranded in a part of Northeast Philly. Fortunately, he said, he was able to get in touch with another Uber driver who was able to pick him up.
“As many of you know, the PPA is charged with regulating the taxi and black car industry in Philadelphia as well as parking,” Jon Feldman, general manager of Uber Pennsylvania, said. “It is a somewhat unusual structure that the PPA is an authority responsible for major functions in the city of Philadelphia, but it is run by political appointees put in place by the state legislature with zero accountability towards city residents or government officials.
“Nevertheless the PPA is suppose to be an independent partial agency serving the public’s interest. But stories printed yesterday in the Philadelphia Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer show that the PPA is anything but an independent public agency. Instead it is clear that PPA is acting essentially as a publicly funded lobbyist for taxi owners, working in secret to stop Philadelphians from having access to ridesharing.”
In a story similar to Reyes', the Philadelphia Daily News reported about another Uber driver who also had a PPA officer reach into his vehicle and took the keys from the ignition.
“While the extent of PPA’s inclusion with taxi is new, there aggressive opposition to Uber is not new to us or the drivers here today,” Feldman said. “Dozens of Uber drivers have found their cars ceased at a moments notice by PPA officials simply because they were trying to use an app to give Philadelphians an affordable ride. Oftentimes when these stings happen drivers are left on the street, they’ve had their phones taken away from them and they’ve been denied access to their personal belongs. The bottom line is that the PPA is unelected and now we know untrustworthy as well.”
Feldman suggested that the only answer to the “broken PPA system” in Philadelphia is statewide sharing that would prevent the PPA from targeting Uber and its drivers.
“Every other part of Pennsylvania has ridesharing standards, yet Philadelphia has been left out for over a year and now we know why,” Feldman said. “Today we are urging the legislature to respond to these reports and take action to allow ridesharing to finally come to Philadelphia.”