Yellow Cab applies for license for ride share service

Yellow Cab Co. of Pittsburgh has filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for an alternative “call and demand” taxi service that would operate under the name “Yellow X.”

While Jamie Campolongo, president of Yellow Cab, says he’s not calling the new entity a “ride share,” the business model for Yellow X is similar to two ride-share operators that recently moved into the Pittsburgh area.

“We went to the PUC and said we can legally do this within the rules and regs, and dispel some of the myths about how these companies can operate,” Mr. Campolongo said. “Drivers can use their personal cars, which we will inspect. We will train and vet the drivers, and insure the vehicles while they are operating for Yellow X.”

The drivers for Yellow X can take overflow calls from Yellow Cab’s dispatchers or connect with passengers directly through a smartphone app, he said.

Lyft and Uber, two San Francisco companies, enlist drivers to use their own vehicles and connect with passengers via smartphone apps. Their arrival in Pittsburgh in February was met with resistance from the two biggest taxi companies in the city, including Yellow Cab, which urged the mayor to allow city police officers to cite ride-share drivers for violating the law.

But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and PUC chairman Robert Powelson have both expressed interest in allowing the ride-share companies to operate alongside taxi services, which would require a change to state law.

Lyft, which up until recently had not held the license of public convenience required of all limousine and taxi companies to operate in Pennsylvania, recently filed an application for such a license, according to documents on the PUC website..

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said there was no timetable for approval of the Yellow X application, but Mr. Campolongo said his conversations with PUC commissioners were encouraging.

Since Uber and Lyft began operating in the Pittsburgh area, Mr. Campolongo said he has yet to see an impact on Yellow Cab’s business.

“It’s either too early to tell, or just had no impact,” he said.

Kim Lyons: or 412-263-1241. Twitter: @SocialKimly.

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