Uber

Ride-sharing magnate Uber wants to add 1,000 new drivers in Pittsburgh in the next 12 months as part of a larger effort to attract 50,000 new drivers in east coast cities.

Dubbed UberUP, or Urban Partnership, officials hope to reach into more diverse neighborhoods for new drivers and passengers. 

“We’re working with those organizations to understand what is the local community need in each of the different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh,” Uber Pittsburgh General Manager Jennifer Krusis said.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Just two years ago, your options for getting a ride in Pittsburgh were pretty much limited to public transportation, taxis, or for those in higher income brackets, executive car services and limousines.

But when ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft rode into town in with their slick mobile apps, quick response times and, in the case of Lyft, their hot pink mustaches, a sea change that had already taken hold in cities such as San Francisco and New York began closing in on the Steel City.

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.

Could Pittsburgh make self-driving cars mainstream?

If it’s up to Carnegie Mellon University and Uber, the answer to that question is yes.

Carnegie Mellon University has partnered with the ride-sharing company to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center.

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. 

The ride-sharing service Uber has won conditional license approval across the state, including Pittsburgh.

The two-year experimental service will only go into effect if Uber meets a number of conditions laid out by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission within the next 30 days. One of those conditions is that Uber drivers get insurance coverage for all three stages of their customer interactions: making themselves available via the Uber app, connecting with a passenger and dropping the passenger off at his or her destination.

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.

The state Public Utility Commission has approved emergency permits for two ride-sharing companies that have been operating in the Pittsburgh area.
 
The companies have come under fire over concerns that drivers, their vehicles and their insurance don't meet regulations for taxi cabs and other similar services. The companies have argued their services are just as safe but have been targeted because they don't fit neatly into current public transportation regulations.
 

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission continues to try stopping ridesharing services Uber and Lyft from operating in the Pittsburgh area, often citing that the drivers are not regulated by the state, which is a safety concern.

This prompted one Pittsburgh man to look into a major safety issue – driving under the influence.

“Under that safety argument I decided to look into DUIs, arguably one of biggest dangers on the road, this could have been having a profound change in that area,” said Nate Good.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto lifted his cell phone up, showing the Lyft and Uber apps on his screen.

“I don’t drive them, but I use them,” Peduto said. “I’ve used them both in the city of Pittsburgh and also in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. It’s very easy to use.”

Montgomery County Planning Commission / Flickr

Right now, most Pittsburghers use their car to get around, but that may change in the near future. First of all, the city lacks sufficient parking, especially downtown. But new transportation options backed by the mayor will make it easier to get around “tahn” without owning a car. Mayor Peduto stopped by Essential Pittsburgh to focus on the city’s transportation goals going forward.

The most immediate issue the mayor has been dealing with was the Uber/Lyft dispute. Peduto said he is behind the two ride sharing companies and calls the ongoing dispute with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission "dysfunctional."

The ride-sharing company Uber has asked the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for an emergency permit, which would allow the company to resume experimental service.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) started drafting legislation last week that would legalize ride-sharing in Pennsylvania.

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.

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.

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.

Regulators want two ride-sharing companies to stop doing business in Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement is pursing cease-and-desist orders against San Francisco-based ride-share companies Lyft and Uber.

The companies have five days to respond.

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.

Undercover Officer Tickets Uber, Lyft Drivers

Apr 25, 2014

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.

Trending on the 412 Blog and What You Need To Know About Ride-Sharing

Apr 8, 2014
Marnie Schleicher / 90.5 WESA

  Sean Conboy online editor at Pittsburgh Magazine's 412 Blog breaks down trending topics in Pittsburgh, from social mobility to dining trends, Google Fiber, and most notably, the ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber

“Basically it’s taking what people see as a jitney sort of service and actually taking it into the 21st century,” Conboy said about Uber and Lyft.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In recent weeks, two ride-sharing services have launched in Pittsburgh – Lyft and Uber.

Both offer paid rides available through a smart phone app. Shortly after their launch, the Pittsburgh Transportation Group, which owns Yellow Cab, asked Mayor Bill Peduto to pass an ordinance cracking down on such services. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission made a similar request of Peduto.