Startups
Transportation

GroundLink wants you to ditch Uber

Except it's more expensive and doesn't offer on-demand rides in Philly yet.

emocha's office in Mount Vernon. (Courtesy photo)
Uber has a serious image problem on its hands right now. What better time for another transportation startup to try to get its name out there?

That’s the tack that GroundLink is taking in Philadelphia, where Uber has been butting heads with the Philadelphia Parking Authority over UberX, its lower-cost, ridesharing option that is operating illegally in the city.

GroundLink’s message? We play by the rules.

“Unlike Uber, we don’t put our customers in a precarious position by ignoring legal, insurance, and driver licensing requirements designed to protect passengers and the public,” a spokesman wrote to us in an email.

The New York City-based company launched in Philly in 2009 and makes about 250 trips per month, most of which are to and from the airport, a spokesman said. It has 300 cars in the area. While it offers on-demand service in other cities around the country, it’s an imperfect comparison to Uber since, in Philly, users have to book rides ahead of time.

GroundLink offers other Uber-esque features, like scheduling via mobile app and GPS tracking. They also don’t use Uber’s “surge pricing” tactic of upping the fare when rides are in high demand. Instead, GroundLink uses “zone” pricing, which means that a trip from University City to Center City will be the same price as a trip from University City to the airport ($66 in an “economy” car). (Uber’s flagship service, UberBLACK, on the other hand, would cost about $45 to get to the airport and half that to get to Center City.)

Can Uber’s image problem get so bad that people would start using a more expensive service? (Or the PPA’s new e-hailing app? We’ll have a story on that shortly.) We mean, John Hogdman quit Uber.

Said the GroundLink spokesman: “We believe the industry must join forces to work in collaboration with the PUC and PPA to stop this bullying from continuing, to make Uber accountable and to protect the citizens of Philadelphia.”

Companies: Uber
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