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Lyft and Uber Await Answer From PUC for Temporary Licenses

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.”

More than a week after the Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued an emergency cease-and-desist order to  Lyft and Uber, Peduto, along with state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and state Rep. John Maher, among others, stood in support of the ride-sharing companies Thursday on the city-county building’s portico.

“The problem is we don’t have the licensing in place," Fontana said. "This is a new era. It’s a new way of looking at things. It’s a new way of doing things. So under the current Pennsylvania law, there is no actual legislation, regulation, oversight that’s in place.”

He started drawing up legislation last week to legalize ride-sharing in Pennsylvania, but it might be a while until the Senate can look at it.

“Because the General Assembly won’t be back in session until Sept. 15, and there is a limited number of days after that to pass legislation through the Senate and House before the end of the year, this has become our long-term goal,” Fontana said.

But to hasten the goal of the legislation, he introduced a resolution to ask the PUC to issue temporary permits to the companies that would allow them to continue operating while the legislation waits.

He said Uber and Lyft have filed the emergency applications for the temporary licenses, and the PUC is expected to consider those applications at its next meeting July 24.

“We’re not asking them to do it with no rules, we’re asking them to do it under the legislation criteria,” Fontana said. “So as you can see, this a two-pronged approach, it would provide short-term relief and a long-term solution.”

Peduto said the ride-sharing businesses will have equal footing with the traditional taxi services that are already provided.

“And equal means equal,” Peduto said. “The rules and regulations that apply to one would be the rules and regulation that would all, and we have leaders both in the Senate and the House who will help us be able to craft those guidelines, work with the Corbett administration and work with our local officials that make sure that that happens.”

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.