Sidecar, Philadelphia Parking Authority come to a compromise

SideCars smart-phone application links drivers and passengers in a way that regulators say is illegal. (Photo provided by SideCar)
SideCars smart-phone application links drivers and passengers in a way that regulators say is illegal. (Photo provided by SideCar)
Posted: March 03, 2013

A Friday meeting between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and a lawyer for the embattled ride-sharing company Sidecar yielded a compromise that allows the firm to operate, provided it takes no money for its services, a PPA spokesman said.

"They agreed not to ask for any compensation, including tips," said spokesman Martin O'Rourke, "and to post an announcement [of that agreement] on their website."

"I can confirm that rides are free in Philly this weekend," Sidecar spokeswoman Margaret Ryan said. As of late Friday, there was no announcement on the website, www.side.cr.

Founded in San Francisco, Sidecar offers rides through a smartphone app. Riders request a car, indicating location and destination, and a private driver responds in a private car.

According to the business model, the transaction is supposed to be paid for with a "donation" in an amount recommended by Sidecar.

To authorities in Philadelphia, that amounted to unregulated taxi service, and officials cracked down with a sting that snagged three drivers, impounded their cars, and assessed thousands of dollars in fines.

Friday's compromise does not address underlying public-safety concerns, such as whether the private vehicles are licensed, insured, and inspected. "Because they are not asking for compensation," O'Rourke said, "we have no jurisdiction."


Contact Michael Matza at 215-854-2541 or mmatza@phillynews.com.

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