On Wednesday morning, the PPA board authorized an expansion of the flat rate zone for taxi trips between Center City and Philadelphia International Airport.
The PPA will need to change the name of the “Center City Zone” or face the wrath of the numerous Philadelphians who bristle at (perceived) erroneous neighborhood designations, as it will encompass a larger swath of West Philly—or is it University City?—starting July 1st.
In Center City itself, the zone’s northern boundary is still Fairmount Ave. and river to river, but the southern edge will extend from South Street to Washington Avenue.* West of the Schuylkill, the northern boundary remains Market Street (plus a curve around 30th Street), but the Western edge will now extend to 48th Street instead of just to 38th Street. The southern border will also remain Spruce Street down to when it turns into the South Street Bridge.
The flat rate is $29.05 for a one way trip to the airport, regardless of the number of passengers. From the airport, it’s $29.05 for one passenger, and a $1 surcharge per each additional passenger (and, if you ask for multiple drop offs, the flat rate only applies to the first stop—everyone else pays a metered rate thereafter).
Taxi drivers petitioned the PPA to expand the zone, believing it would improve their competitiveness with transportation network companies (TNCs) Uber and Lyft. The taxi industry has been rocked by competition from TNCs, which they say have flooded the market and inundated Philly’s streets in traffic. Uber has said they have around 20,000 drivers in the region. Based on fees paid to the PPA, Uber controls around 80 percent of the Philadelphia TNC market. At their peak, before Uber and Lyft began operations, there were around 1,600 taxis operating in the city.
The PPA board tabled a small taxi rate increase proposed by the Taxi and Limo Division staff at the behest of a taxi driver petition.
*CORRECTION: This sentence originally said that the southern boundary was “still Washington Ave.”, implying that the old boundary was Washington Avenue. It was not. It was South Street.