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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How Pittsburgh became Uber's Kitty Hawk: Gov't emails reveal the promise, pitfalls of alliance

By Colin Deppen |

PITTSBURGH -- Much has been written and said in recent months about the City of Pittsburgh's blossoming relationship with ride-sharing giant Uber.

In September, the California-based tech pioneer drew worldwide media attention to Steel City by using it as the backdrop for its groundbreaking rollout of self-driving or autonomous vehicles.

The rollout followed months of backchannel bonding between Uber and city officials. It also helped solidify Uber as a leader in its field, and Pittsburgh as an innovation-friendly metropolis and city on the mend.

But emails, newly obtained by PennLive through a Right-to-Know request, reveal the hidden anxieties and complexities behind the effort. They also reveal the intricate web of people, optics and ideas at work behind the scenes, and the increasingly blurred lines between public and private sectors that sometimes resulted.

This is a look at those emails, hundreds of pages in all, sent between members of Mayor Bill Peduto's staff, the mayor himself and Uber over the last two years. They reveal a city looking for and finding its future in a company that's cutting ties with the past. They also renew questions about the nature of that relationship, who stands to benefit and, at the end of the day, who's doing the driving.

Why Pittsburgh?

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