Taxi, Uber Black drivers block streets in protest of Uber X, Lyft

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- A huge demonstration blocked traffic for more than an hour Wednesday in the heart of Center City.

Cab drivers, limo drivers and Uber Black drivers came together to block traffic and protest Lyft and Uber X.

Protesters with the Taxi Workers Alliance and the Philadelphia Limo Association lined the streets of Center City. Dozens marched straight to the District Attorney's Office.

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Taxi drivers blocked Market Street in Center City during a protest Wednesday.

Their message - they want the city to shutdown Uber X and Lyft drivers who they say are operating illegally in the city.

One of those taxi drivers, Jamal Brown, tells us, "We can't advertise in our taxi to make a couple extra dollars. We can't do a lot of things in our taxis to increase our earnings because of the Parking Authority's regulation. Meanwhile, they're not regulating Uber and Uber X and Lyft."

Taxi drivers and Uber Black limo drivers, who are in compliance with city regulations, say if they have to follow the rules, so should everyone else.

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A driver was detained and ticketed by Philadelphia Police during Wednesday's protest in Center City.

Ali Razak from the Philadelphia Limo Association says, "There's 12,000 illegal drivers. There's numerous crimes happening every day. Everybody's aware of that, but everybody wants to point their finger and say 'oh I don't know anything about it.' Somebody needs to take responsibility."

The protesters say they feel ignored and overlooked by the city. They want to see the Philadelphia Parking Authority do more, but admit it would be difficult.

Ronald Blount is the president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Philadelphia. He tells us, "The Philadelphia Parking Authority, they've done the best they can. They only have eight enforcement inspectors going against thousands of illegal Uber X in the city. So, they need help."

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Several taxicabs were ordered towed from the scene of a protest in Center City Philadelphia.

A spokesperson for Uber released the following statement on Wednesday:

    "Many taxi and limousine drivers are understandably frustrated because the Philadelphia Parking Authority's outdated rules make it harder to earn a living when the public has shown they want more affordable options. 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 ridesharing will benefit both riders and drivers."

Action News spoke with a representative from the Philadelphia Parking Authority who says the agency conducts regular stings to go after the illegal ride-sharing operations, and the agency says those stings will continue.

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Taxi drivers blocked Market Street in Center City during a protest Wednesday.

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