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Pittsburgh taxis plan own smartphone app to battle newcomers Lyft and Uber

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By Bobby Kerlik
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 10:18 p.m.

Pittsburgh's largest taxi company is fighting smartphone apps with one of its own.

Jamie Campolongo, CEO of Pittsburgh Transportation Group, which owns Yellow Cab, said on Thursday that his company is partnering with zTrip, which makes an app for taxi companies that is similar to apps for driving services Lyft and Uber. They began operating in Pittsburgh in the past week.

“We hope to roll it out in Pittsburgh in March. Basically, you'll get everything that you get from the other companies in conjunction with professionally trained and licensed drivers,” Campolongo said. “Unfortunately, we're three weeks too late.”

The recent rollout of Lyft and Uber in Pittsburgh riled traditional cab companies and the state Public Utility Commission. The PUC contends anyone who offers rides for compensation is subject to regulation. Campolongo met with PUC representatives Thursday Downtown. He said the PUC told him that it has an enforcement plan for the new-age apps and is awaiting approval.

A PUC spokeswoman said this week that the agency could ticket unregulated companies and their drivers and was “preparing to take action.”

Representatives for Lyft and Uber could not be reached for comment.

Lyft and Uber users book a ride from an app and pay by credit card through a smartphone. Drivers use their personal cars. Lyft cars brandish a pink mustache on the front.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-320-7886.

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