It’s been a year since the PPA gathered up police on horseback and busted people driving for UberX when it first launched — albeit not wholly legally — in Philadelphia.
There still isn’t a regulatory structure for UberX to legally operate in Philly, but since that “sting operation,” more than 700,000 residents and visitors have ridden with Uber in Philly, thanks to 12,000 or so drivers. And those drivers have together brought in more than $30 million.
The ridesharing giant based in San Francisco released figures that show how it’s grown in Philadelphia since last October, when its rollout was rocky. Since then, support for Uber in Philadelphia has stretched from the mayor on down and a number of proposals are on the table to make it easier for UberX to operate in the city.
Among the flashiest of the numbers released was the amount of money brought in over the last year by the 12,000-ish drivers in the city — $33 million as of September, and Uber estimates that number will top $50 million by January.
Uber’s 12,000 drivers in Philadelphia places the city among the top in the U.S. in terms of number of drivers, but still behind cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago. (More information on those numbers can be found here.) It also means the city has significantly more ridesharing drivers than it does cabbies — there are 1,600 taxi medallions in the entire city.
Other highlights of Uber’s year one in Philly: One in four drivers are female and a third of drivers are from zip codes with unemployment greater than 9 percent. Uber also reported 20 percent of rides start or end in “one of Philadelphia’s underserved neighborhoods.”
Uber also provided figures for the number of jobs created in Philadelphia, broken down by state senatorial district. The map below shows how these jobs are spread across the city, with darker shades of green representing more jobs created:
Here’s why it’s been such a long road for Uber in Philly: Ridesharing isn’t technically legal here. But it’s also not technically illegal. Outdated laws mean the city doesn’t technically recognize ridesharing, even as taxi companies struggle to compete with the growing field and cab insurance companies are going bankrupt.
UberX and Lyft are operating freely in the rest of Pennsylvania outside of Philly because the companies were granted a two-year experimental license to operate by the Public Utility Commission, which regulates taxis throughout the state.
Here in Philly, the Philadelphia Parking Authority regulates limos and taxis and originally came out strong against Uber, calling it a “hack” cab company and impounding cars and fining any driver caught working for Uber. In August, the PPA launched an official complaint in administrative court against Uber, seeking $300,000 in fines for illegally operating in Philadelphia.
But the PPA’s tune seems to have changed. Its executive director has come out in support of statewide measures that would at least set up a regulatory structure for Uber and Lyft to legally and safely operate throughout the state.
The proposal that seems to have gained the most traction is a bill introduced by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, a Republican from western PA, that would basically establish a framework for regulations. The bill outlines insurance and background check requirements for drivers, and also requires Uber pay a 0.5 percent fee to the PPA.