April 07, 2016

Chamber execs: Ridesharing is good for business in Philadelphia

The region benefits by offering consumers more transportation choices, economic opportunities

A robust and successful business community relies on consumers having access to convenient, affordable and reliable transportation options. Major cities across the nation have welcomed innovative ridesharing services because they bolster the local business community and provide more consumer transportation choices that are safe, reduce time-wasting gridlock and improve access for people who don’t own their own vehicle or simply cannot drive.

Increasing access to ridesharing platforms have opened up fresh opportunities for individuals, especially members of minority communities, who need flexibility in their working lives.

Our Chambers of Commerce support ridesharing services that will improve economic development opportunities for our towns, neighborhoods and communities. Our small businesses benefit from the creation of reliable customer and employee transportation networks. By increasing access to all urban areas, ridesharing services boost sales for both new and established small businesses, keeping vital service providers within reach of a broader clientele and fostering the integration of communities across the greater Tri-State and Philadelphia metropolitan regions.

Increasing access to ridesharing platforms have opened up fresh opportunities for individuals, especially members of minority communities, who need flexibility in their working lives. These platforms provide attractive economic opportunities for such individuals because they can drive as much or as little as they would like, thereby earning primary or supplementary income on their own schedules.

In addition, the ridesharing application Lyft recently surveyed drivers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The survey indicated that 49 percent of ridesharing drivers in San Francisco and 50 percent of ridesharing drivers in Los Angeles belong to a racial minority group, and that the concept of ridesharing is growing in underserved neighborhoods. Ridesharing also helps to close both physical transportation gaps and the less tangible digital divide. Now, any individual with a smartphone can summon a ride immediately, regardless of where they are located or whether they have access to a computer. This provides a useful new choice for many in the African-American community, who represent more than 50 percent of all individuals who currently own smartphones.

The flexibility of ridesharing allows people to readily transition into new careers, pursue higher education opportunities, or manage a non-standard family schedule. Ridesharing platforms like Lyft also offer many benefits for those facing economic challenges by allowing them to turn their personal vehicles (possibly long considered a financial burden) into an economic opportunity.

It’s clear that the entire Philadelphia region will benefit by offering consumers more transportation choices and economic opportunities. Elected officials at both the city and state level have recognized the importance of ridesharing and are working hard to secure a successful future for ridesharing in Pennsylvania. They should be applauded for providing their constituents, as well as tourists and other visitors, with the same opportunity that millions of other Americans take advantage of daily across the nation.

The Philadelphia region thrives when a business environment is created that empowers all entrepreneurs. Opening our arms to new forms of business sends a clear message that our area values technological innovation over the status quo and promotes the region as one of the truly most vibrant and proactive business-friendly communities in the nation.

Steven Bradley is chairman of the African American Chamber of Commerce and Rob Wonderling is president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.