When Uber starts operating in new markets, it tends to act aggressively, often operating unauthorized. Uber asks for forgiveness from cities, not permission.
Sometimes, this behavior gets the company in trouble.
That’s what’s happening right now in Philadelphia, where Uber has operated for the past 10 months, Al Jazeera America reports.
Uber is currently facing a $300,000 fine in the city – a drop in the bucket for a company with a $7 billion war chest – and is being sued by the city for illegal operations.
Taxi drivers in Philadelphia, like those in other cities, bemoan Uber for killing their business.
Ron Blount, an organizer with the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, told Al Jazeera America: “It’s the worst summer yet. Even on a Friday, which is when drivers recoup [business], it’s horrible, and night shifts are horrible. A lot of drivers are sitting at the airport for three hours hoping to get a big [fare].”
Uber says that in Philadelphia, a city of 1.5 million people, it’s been responsible for creating 12,000 driver jobs and giving more than a million trips to 700,000 riders. It has no plans to stop operating in Philadelphia, the company told NPR.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA), in particular, seems to be going for the jugular with Uber. Al Jazeera America reports that the PPA has conducted sting operations, in which drivers are summoned using the app and then fined. The PPA has also been encouraging taxi drivers to write down Uber drivers’ license plate numbers and then report them.
This isn’t the first time regulators in the state of Pennsylvania have come after Uber. In January, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission granted a 2-year approval across the entire state, excluding Philadelphia. The PPA is now trying to impose a $1,000-per-day fine on Uber for its operations in Philadelphia. In May, the PUC’s Investigation & Enforcement division proposed Uber pay a $19 million fine, and forced the company to hand over proprietary ride data.
“It’s not a matter of legal or not legal,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett told Al Jazeera America. “There’s no law in place, because there was no ‘ride-sharing’ until a few years ago.”
Philadelphia is far from being the only city in which Uber’s operations have come under fire this year. Uber has had its fair share of battles with cities across the country and around the world. This summer, Uber fought a public battle with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who wanted to institute a cap on the number of cars Uber could add to its fleet each year.
Ultimately, de Blasio ended up dropping his proposed bill to limit the growth of for-hire vehicle companies such as Uber and Lyft.