Partnering with 100 restaurants, Uber launches food delivery service

(Image via UberEATS Facebook)

(Image via UberEATS Facebook)

Philadelphians can now order dinner with a smartphone and a new food delivery app from the popular ride-hailing service Uber.

As of 7 a.m. on Wednesday, UberEats became available to diners throughout most of the city, a growing hotbed for all things edible.

Food from more than 100 restaurants is currently available through the free app, including some  top-shelf spots such as Buddakan and El Vez in Center City.

Similar to UberX, customers can track their delivery driver every step of the way — from the restaurant to their front door.

“The same speed with which we can pick you up in a vehicle, we can also pick up your food to deliver it,” said Casey Verkamp, general manager of UberEATS Philadelphia

Delivery times in other cities have been roughly 30 minutes, said Verkamp.

A dedicated fleet of drivers will deliver food, but the 10,000 or so Uber drivers in the city can press themselves into service too.

“That’s a huge advantage compared to the existing players in the market who need to have that infrastructure of delivery guys,” said Sunil Wattal, associate professor of management information systems at Temple University.

The app launch comes as Uber creeps closer to becoming legal in Philadelphia, the only place in the state that it’s not.

In mid-July, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation authorizing an agreement between Uber and the Philadelphia Parking Authority that allows the ride-booking company to operate in the city without repercussion through Sept. 30.

The deal settles all existing legal disputes stemming from Uber’s operating illegally in the city.

State lawmakers are expected to pass a bill this fall that would legalize the service across the state.

When the measure is enacted, Uber will pay the PPA $350,000. The settlement covers rides from UberX and UberPool between Oct. 24, 2014, and July 7.

The legislation, introduced by state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, would levy a 1-percent tax on all rides in Philadelphia. About a third of the proceeds would go to the PPA. The rest would be sent to the Philadelphia School District.

The bill also calls for background checks and driving records.

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