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UberX, Taxi cabs and SEPTA: Philly's Got Some Transpo Issues

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Good morning! It's a beautiful Monday isn't it? Not if you're dealing with some of Philly's transportation issues. Let's just say this goes well beyond the congestion at the Conshohocken Curve and bumper-to-bumper on I-95 near the Betsy Ross Bridge. So what's up?

SEPTA: Our public transit agency continues to do the SEPTAdance with union heads regarding a possible work stoppage. The threat of a strike loomed large on Friday and news broke early Sunday that workers of the Transit Workers Union local 234 voted unanimously to approve one, should it come to those desperate measures. No strike is currently planned and officials are still hashing out the details, mainly regarding pensions and health care. Good thing they worked it out with the Regional Rail folks. So wait, when will we get you use our flashy new SEPTA Key?

UberX Sting Op: So, UberX touted its launch in Philadelphia this weekend with free rides for all. Sounds great, right? Not to the PPA, who governs the taxis in the city. They claim that UberX is an "illegal hack cab service" and held a sting operation in response to the introduction of UberX into the market. Let's just say they don't fool around.

According to Billy Penn, the PPA rolled up on one unsuspecting UberX driver near the Ritz 5 in Society Hill with two enforcement vehicles and two cops on horseback. Talk about being shut down. Uber claims they have stringent background checks for their drivers and every driver is backed by $1M in insurance coverage. The PPA doesn't share that sentiment and impounded the cars while fining the driver $1,000 each. Ouch.

Taxi Problems: While the UberX rebellion may have been temporarily squashed, there are some issues surrounding taxis in Philly as well. Recently, no one bid on the first set of taxi medallions. The PPA set the minimum bid at $475,000 each and they are to be used on wheelchair-accessible cabs. On Friday, about 25% of the taxis in Philadelphia were left without adequate insurance due to the liquidation of First Keystone Risk Retention Group Inc. a commercial auto insurance company. The PPA said that they would disable the cab's meter remotely and place an orange notification sticker on each inoperable cab. Sheesh.
· Two horses, two patrol cars and lots of flashing lights: The scene of an Uber-X sting operation [Billy Penn]
· SEPTA union authorizes strike, but no work stoppage expected Monday [Newsworks]