Why Philly cabbies want PPA to greenlight a driver-owned taxi co-op

By Randy LoBasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Mar. 18, 2014

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Stumpo tells me how the company he works for was supposed to unleash a cell-phone-based app system earlier this year—but the date came and went. “It was supposed to happen March 1, but I haven’t heard anything. We’re putting a new cab on the street—maybe then, we’ll see. But I don’t know if any drivers have signed up yet.”

Today, Blount says,
60 drivers are on board with the co-op idea—20 of whom, like Gebremedhin, own their own medallions—and each have put up $1,000 as startup cash. That represents about a third of the funding they need to launch the operation; the rest they’re working to bring in from both grants and loans from industry, co-op and worker-aligned groups in Philadelphia and around the country.

Like lots of modern startup companies, part of Alliance’s business plan—and why they believe they can get the cell-phone app system up and running quickly—relies on the fact that they’re not encumbered by pre-existing, out-of-date technology that needs reinventing or replacing. Alliance Taxi plans to launch with next-generation credit-card equipment and won’t need to interface with a patchwork of dispatchers that have been conglomerating piecemeal for years.

But can it really work? Alliance’s lofty goals include gaining 25 percent of the market in four years—that means 400 of the city’s 1,600 medallions—while sharing profits between company members; going out of their way to serve parts of the city where cabs are currently reluctant to go; using environmentally conscious vehicles; and providing employee benefits in an industry where, currently, there are none.

For drivers like Gebremedhin, it’s about much more than competing with area businesses. “This is for true,” he says. “I fight until end. We fighting, fighting, fighting. Some people, they have dream to drive cab—like they dream for anything … this is a billion dollar business, and we want it to go to work for us.”

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Comments 1 - 2 of 2
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1. David said... on Mar 20, 2014 at 07:46AM

“If you are a "right-winger" and you don't like this self-determination, or this example of the free market, then you are probably not liking this because you are probably a racist. It's not the community coming together aspect you hate, it's the "class" of people working to make this happen.

What's not to like about this? Free-market hypocrites!”

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2. Margaret said... on Mar 21, 2014 at 09:18AM

“It's about time we got a tax cab company that will serve all of Philadelphia. It is an important public transportation system that needs reform. And the actual workers, the drivers, have the opportunity to make better earnings. That is because a cooperative is owned and operated by the workers and not by some distant owner/investor. Everyone wins- the workers and consumers.”


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