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November 28, 2017

Philly cab companies unify to stay relevant against Uber, Lyft

Business Taxis
Freedom Taxi in traffic near 30th Street Station Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

A cab operated by Freedom Taxi waits in a line of traffic on the JFK Boulevard Bridge near 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

Once in competition with one another, three Philadelphia cab companies will unify in 2018 against a newer, bigger competition: ride-share apps.

With the ever-growing number of Uber and Lyft cars in Philadelphia, local cab companies have taken several initiatives to thwart the loss of business, including higher fare rates. Now, PHL Taxis and Freedom Taxi will group its total 385 cars along with the approximately 700 cars operated by 215-GET-A-CAB in a joint venture.

In 2018, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports, all cars will operate under 215-GET-A-CAB, rolling out an updated smartphone app and car technology as well.

Updates to the taxis include fresh paint jobs and the removal of partitions to better simulate the experience of a ride-share trip. There also will be cameras installed and tablets to replace old payment systems, plus phone chargers and fare monitors.

In the updated app, riders can expect options to split fares and pool rides, along with the ability to store payment information, similar to what Uber and Lyft users are accustomed. There also is a plan to create a real-time map of nearby cabs that could help make getting a cab ride simpler.

The merger developed over the last six months, the Business Journal reports, and required owners to view each other as allies and not rivals.

“We had to learn to trust one another and understand that we all have common goals and know that working together is the best way forward,” Danielle Friedman, general counsel for Get-a-Cab, said to the Business Journal.