State legislators are preparing a measure that would allow ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber to operate in Pennsylvania, days after administrative judges with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) ordered the companies to cease operations.
Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) has already drafted a bill that would lessen the PUC's regulations on background checks, insurance, vehicle inspections, and most importantly, licensing.
The PUC currently requires any party that offers transportation for hire to have a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Both Lyft and Uber applied for the certificates, but have yet to be approved. However, they have continued to operate without the certification racking up thousands of dollars in fines.
Fontana said his legislation would create a level playing field for ride-sharing services and other forms of public transportation throughout the state.
“There’s nothing wrong with having them (ride-sharing companies),” he said. “I think it’s great. I’m not happy with their method of operation and the resistance of getting it done. That’s what I’m not happy with. That’s another issue.”
As it stands, Fontana’s legislation would apply statewide, but he said cities would have the option to carve themselves out of the bill.
The PUC and the ride-sharing companies are in favor of the legislation, according to Fontana, but he said getting the bill to pass will need to be a team effort.
“If they want this done,” Fontana said, “we’re going to keep having court issues and then there’s going to be people trying to shut them down and we got all this drama going on when all we really have to do is pass legislation that sets the criteria.”
A spokesman for the Corbett administration said the governor also supports the concept of ride sharing.
In a written statement, Uber said it will continue “to work with the state leaders to find a permanent home for ridesharing in Pennsylvania.” Similarly, Lyft said the company is “working with elected officials to ensure that consumers continue to have access to peer-to-peer transportation."
With the General Assembly preparing to leave Harrisburg, Fontana’s bill most likely won’t be considered until sessions resume in September.