PA Public Utility Commission

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads)

 After more than two years of contentious legal battles, Uber and Lyft may operate legally in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Senate voted 47-1 to allow ride-hailing services to operate in the state — and to begin regulating them as their own transportation entity. Governor Tom Wolf plans to sign the legislation. 

Yutaka Seki / Flickr

The winter season maybe ending, but that’s not stopping officials from making sure residents stay warm. 

More than 16,000 Pennsylvania households don’t have proper heating utilities, according to Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission.

That’s why the commission is urging residents without heat to seek one of its services for help.

The effort follows data collected by the commission’s recent Cold Weather Survey, which tracks households without utility services. 

By a 5-0 vote Thursday the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission rejected one part of Pittsburgh Yellow Cab’s fare hike request and delayed action on the other two provisions.

Pittsburgh Transportation Group, the parent firm of Yellow Cab, wanted to impose a surcharge of up to $8 per trip on Friday and Saturday nights, Sundays and holidays.

Commissioner James Cawley joined his colleagues in rejecting that request, saying the variable surcharge “does not allow a passenger to determine if it is the proper amount,” and because it “appears to be arbitrarily determined.”

Imagine someone comes to your house claiming to be from the water or gas company. He says he's come to do some work in the area, but you weren’t expecting him. What if he isn’t who he says he is, and how can you tell?

Nearly two weeks after granting a two-year experimental license to Uber, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) did the same Thursday for Lyft, the other major ridesharing service in the state.

The commission voted 5-0 to approve Lyft’s compliance plan, which was mandated by the Dec. 18 order which granted an experimental license if Lyft demonstrated that it was meeting  specific conditions to ensure driver integrity, vehicle safety and insurance protections.

The Public Utility Commission has approved with conditions the application by Lyft to offer ridesharing services statewide for two years.

“Those conditions mainly address the concerns the commission has been expressing all along that these companies are proving that they are using safe drivers and they are doing background checks on drivers, that the vehicles they are operating are safe, and that they have the proper insurance,” said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave conditional approval to the ride-sharing service Uber to offer “experimental” service across most of Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, for two years.

One of those conditions is that Uber drivers must be insured for all three stages of the ride-sharing process: turning the app on and making yourself available for hire; transporting the passenger; and, dropping off that customer. 

So Erie Insurance is trying to fill the gap in coverage. 

Two Public Utility Commission Administrative Law judges may have recommended that the full Commission deny Uber’s application for a permanent license, but the ride sharing company doesn’t need to slam on the brakes quite yet.

“After weighing the evidence in the cases of the Uber applications that were before the Commission, our administrative law judges wrote recommended decisions addressing each of the issues in the case,” Denise McCracken, PUC Deputy Press Secretary, said. “These recommended decisions are denying the applications by Uber.”

Ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber have been granted temporary operating licenses in the Pittsburgh area, but it’s still up the Public Utility Commission to determine if they should be granted permanent permission to operate, and whether regulatory changes are needed to fit them into the transportation landscape.

A PUC hearing Thursday tackled the issue.

“I think that it would be embarrassing if we step back and say ‘no, we’re not going to accept this innovation,’” said state Rep. Erin Molchany.

Lyft

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has slammed the brakes on ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber in Pittsburgh effective immediately.

PUC Administrative Law judges have granted the emergency petition by the PUC Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement to issue cease-and-desist orders for the companies.

The two-judge panel wrote that they were not “blind or deaf to the public opinion,” but that the commission’s duty to ensure public safety is more important than the convenience of the companies.

Judges Say No to Uber and Lyft Again

Jul 2, 2014

Two administrative law judges have agreed with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to force two ride-share companies to stop operating in Pittsburgh.

The judges issued their rulings Tuesday, five days after PUC attorneys argued that Lyft and Uber are violating state rules that govern paid transportation services.

Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies use smartphone apps to dispatch drivers who use their own personal vehicles.

Growing popularity and the support of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto were not enough to prevent ride-sharing companies Lyft and Uber from getting hit with five and six figure fines by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) last Thursday.

Electricity Bills Get a New Look

May 27, 2014

Electricity bills are full of numbers, measurements, abbreviations, and costs, all tallied precisely. But one thing that does not show up is the name of the company that actually produces  the electricity. That is, until now.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved a requirement that bills contain more information about electricity suppliers.