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Uber expands food delivery into Harrisburg

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Uber will bring its food delivery service to Harrisburg starting this week.

The ride-hailing company is partnering with nearly 50 restaurants for the launch including Arooga’s and Passage to India in the downtown neighborhood, Pastorante in midtown, as well as Pho 3 Mien in Lemoyne. The service will operate between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. seven days a week.

An Uber representative will host a demonstration of the service’s ability and use in the Uber mobile phone app at Arooga’s in downtown Harrisburg on Thursday morning, which is also when the service launches.

According to guidelines provided by Uber, users of the Uber Eats app place an order that is then sent to the restaurant. At the same time, an Uber driver is alerted to the request for a delivery. When the food is ready, the restaurant hands off the food to the Uber driver who then delivers it to the customer.

In a statement, Arooga’s co-founder and president Gary Heuther Jr. said his restaurant chain leapt at the opportunity to work with the service when Uber presented it to them.

"We're excited for this opportunity to bring our awesome grub to our guests, and hope that we are able to expand our outreach by offering this additional service," said Heuther.

Uber Eats went live in the Lehigh Valley in October of last year and has been available in Philadelphia since 2015, shortly after the service debuted in four pilot cities. Uber Eats is currently available in 37 cities nationwide.

Since launching in Harrisburg in 2015, Uber’s ride-hailing service has gained 1,000 drivers in the region and 42,000 passengers according to Craig Ewer, spokesman for Uber Pennsylvania. The average ride time was six minutes and passengers from 59 different countries have used the service near Harrisburg in the last three months.

Uber’s ride-hailing service first became available in Pennsylvania in 2014 with rollout of the app in Pittsburgh. It quickly attracted the attention of the Public Utility Commission, the state agency that regulates taxis and limousines.

According to the timeline published by the commission, it filed a cease-and-desist against Uber soon after the app became available as the company did not register with the commission.

While Uber eventually applied for and received a certification to conduct business in the commonwealth, in 2016 the PUC levied a $11.4 million fine against the company for operating without proper licensure. Uber settled with the PUC last spring and, as part of the settlement, paid $3.5 million to the state.

Uber came under fire from state lawmakers in December after the company failed to disclose a ransomware attack affecting more than 57 million users from 2016. Rep. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) sent a letter to Attorney General Joshua Shapiro arguing the company could be in violation of state law which requires companies to report breaches without “an unreasonable delay.”

The attorney general requested more information from the company in December, but his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment or update on the matter.

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