Philadelphia taxi and limo drivers, angry with ride-booking services UberX and Lyft cutting into their business, took to Center City streets Thursday blocking traffic and making noise.
Cabdrivers joined Uber Black drivers and people with disabilities to protest ride-hailing services UberX and Lyft that are cutting into traditional taxi and limo business.
The Philadelphia Cab Association planned to gather on city streets around 12:30 p.m. to protest ride-sharing claiming that public safety, a lack of handicap-accessible vehicles and a lack of taxation are putting the people of Pennsylvania in peril, especially people with disabilities. Some drivers also claim to be making less money as people turn to the convenience of app-based Lyft and UberX.
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UberBlack – Uber's upscale service featuring licensed limousine drivers – joined the taxi drivers in their opposition of the app-based services that feature non-professional drivers using personal cars to transport fares. Uber calls UberX a lower-cost alternative to UberBlack.
On Thursday, people using wheelchairs and others could be seen protesting outside City Hall as seemingly hundreds of cabs and black cars -- one with "Uber Slave" written on its roof -- blocked lanes and blared horns.
After about 45 minutes, protesters holding signs and chanting could be seen standing in the middle of Market Street on the west side of City Hall causing a complete stop of traffic. Philadelphia Police responded but didn't appear to disperse the crowd nor make any arrests.
Late last year, a seemingly larger protest brought Center City to a standstill as protesters -- estimated to be between 500 to 600 -- used a combination of on-foot demonstrations and licensed vehicles to slow traffic along Broad Street and on surrounding streets for about 45 minutes.
In the days after that protest, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams met with taxi and limo drivers to hear their grievances. Uber Black drivers have also filed a suit against Uber over ride-sharing options.
State lawmakers have battled over the legality of the ride-sharing services as UberX hit milestones like its 1 millionth ride in Philadelphia.
Uber earlier responded to the concerns of Philly's professional drivers in a statement that put the onus back on the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which is responsible for taxi licensing in the city.
“Many taxi and limousine drivers are understandably frustrated because the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s outdated rules make it harder to earn a living when the public has shown they want more affordable options," said the Uber statement. "Each year, the PPA requires limousine drivers to pay $404 per vehicle for a PPA sticker and $130 for their chauffeur's permit to be renewed. They also subject drivers to obsolete vehicle restrictions and onerous insurance requirements. We believe statewide reform of the PPA that allows for regulated ride-sharing will benefit both riders and drivers."
The PPA had no comment about Thursday's event. they did, however, conjured up the Bill of Rights in a previous statement.
"We are all thankful to live in a free country, where we all are free to assemble and express our views through peaceful protests," said PPA Executive Director Vince Fenerty.
NBC10 also reached out to Lyft for comment.