Transportation
2:45 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Undercover Officer Tickets Uber, Lyft Drivers

The state Public Utility Commission (PUC) is cracking down on ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber for operating without licenses in Pittsburgh.

From the end of March through April 21, the PUC issued 23 tickets to Lyft and Uber drivers ranging in amount from $25 to $300 plus court costs.

An undercover PUC enforcement officer was sent to retrieve rides using the services’ smartphone applications, and once the rides were over, the officer submitted the tickets to the local District Justice’s office.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said the commission often does “periodic operations in different areas where we’re getting reports of problems.”

“We happen to know that [Lyft and Uber] were operating, or at least had been told that they were operating,” Kocher said. “We simply tried to use the services ourselves and were successful. At that point, a violation existed.”

In an official statement, Uber spokeswoman Natalia Montalvo said the company stands behind its drivers, and that “we look forward to finding ways to improve Pittsburgh’s transportation ecosystem.”

“Since arriving in Pittsburgh, we’ve seen overwhelming demand from both riders and drivers for transportation alternatives in the city,” Montalvo wrote. “Both Mayor [Bill] Peduto and PUC Chairman Powelson have expressed support for innovative transportation solutions that deliver more choices for consumers and more opportunities for drivers.”

A representative from Lyft could not be reached for comment.

Since Lyft and Uber began operating in Pittsburgh earlier this year, taxi companies have argued they shouldn’t be allowed to operate without following regulations.

According to Kocher, the services are currently in the process of applying for state licenses. However, until then, drivers will continue to be cited.

“We want [services] to be properly licensed prior to beginning operations, and they have not done that at this point,” Kocher said.

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