To improve Pittsburgh-Uber relationship, Peduto plans a memo of understanding

But don’t expect to see a draft just yet.

The Incline
MJ Slaby

A draft of an agreement that Mayor Bill Peduto wants Uber officials to sign is “not yet available,” city spokeswoman Katie O’Malley told The Incline on Monday.

The possible memorandum of understanding between Uber and Pittsburgh was first mentioned in the Wall Street Journal on Monday:

Mr. Peduto, a Democrat, said he plans to seek Uber’s signature on a memorandum of understanding demanding better work conditions for Uber drivers, services to some elderly residents, and improvements in fuel efficiency.

While the items in the memo aren’t specific to self-driving cars, the list indicates the types of partnerships and benefits the city wants in exchange for working with Uber as it tests self-driving cars around the city. (Currently, there is no law that would allow the city to prevent such testing.)

Uber had not yet seen the memo, per the Journal. The company also provided the following statement as a response to The Incline:

Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map, an effort that included creating hundreds of tech jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars. We hope to continue to have a positive presence in Pittsburgh by supporting the local economy and community.

It’s not the first time Peduto has been critical of Uber and called for the company to give back to the city.

In January, Peduto told The Incline that the city and Uber had a “back and forth” relationship. If Uber wants cities to help the company succeed, then Uber needs to help cities both financially and through other commitments to the city, he said.

Peduto also previously said he’s working on city partnerships with Argo AI, following Ford’s $1 billion investment for the Pittsburgh company to do self-driving car work in Pittsburgh.

On Monday afternoon, the city issued a statement from Peduto in response to the WSJ article. In it, the mayor acknowledged that “not all economic growth benefits society,” but called for the “new economy” to benefit workers, the environment and the city.

One hundred years ago, Pittsburgh was the original economic disruptor. We created air dangerous to breathe, water poisonous to drink and the greatest disparity between the haves and have nots in American history.

It took over fifty years for us to reverse our environmental degradation and create the middle class. Now we find ourselves at the center of the next economic disruption. Pittsburgh is a global center for robotics, autonomous manufacturing and artificial intelligence. But, in Pittsburgh, we know that economic disrupters have a moral obligation to provide societal benefits.

The statement doesn’t reference the memo of understanding as reported by the WSJ, but O’Malley told The Incline that it is “the most up-to-date information we have on this issue.”