Why new ridesharing startup Tripda is safe in Philly, for now - Technical.ly Philly

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Why new ridesharing startup Tripda is safe in Philly, for now

Tripda is an online marketplace for long-distance car rides. The Philadelphia Parking Authority said it likely wouldn't regulate such a service, though the Public Utility Commission said it likely would for intrastate trips.

The Schuylkill Expressway.

(Photo by Flickr user @robotbrainz, used under a Creative Commons license)

Tripda, an online ridesharing marketplace or “Airbnb for cars,” recently expanded to Philadelphia, and though they invoke the “R” word like uberX, it doesn’t have to worry about the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s wrath, for now, at least.

Backed by Berlin-based Rocket Internet, the startup operates in 10 countries and is now orchestrating a large-scale U.S. rollout, according to a spokeswoman. Philadelphia is just one of nearly a dozen expansion cities, including Chicago, Boston and Milwaukee.

On Tripda, people can sell seats in their car for long-distance car rides. Right now, “Issam L.” is selling three seats in his car ($18 each) for a trip from New York City to Philadelphia, and “Taha K.” is selling four seats ($38 each) for a ride from State College to Philadelphia.

Since Tripda isn’t offering on-demand, “point to point taxi cab service” like Uber and uberX, the Philadelphia Parking Authority likely won’t regulate it, said Jim Ney, the PPA’s Taxi and Limousine Division director.

“It’s quite a bit different from uberX,” Ney said. “It seems to be a more efficient, electronic solution for carpooling.”

Still, Ney said that the PPA has yet to encounter Tripda in action and may change its mind when it does.

Tripda CEO Adi Vaxman agreed that the PPA didn’t have jurisdiction over Tripda: “We do not operate a for-hire or a taxi-like service. We do not believe that we require any authorization from the City.”

The state’s Public Utility Commission took a different stance. Spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said that if someone was selling a ride from one part of Pennsylvania to another (say, Philly to Pittsburgh), Tripda would need a license to do so. The PUC has yet to hear from Tripda, she said. We’re waiting to hear back from Tripda on this point. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that the PUC will take action. Case in point: uberX in the Philly suburbs.)

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Tripda’s U.S. headquarters is in New York City. It will not have any employees on the ground in Philly, according to a spokeswoman. The company does not currently take a cut of rides sold on its platform but this could change, Vaxman said through a spokeswoman.

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