PA Utility Commission Fines Uber $11.4 Million For Operating Without Approval

Apr 21, 2016

Uber was sentenced to pay an $11.4 million fine for operating in Pennsylvania without a license.
Credit Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced Thursday it will fine ride-sharing company Uber for operating in the state between February and August 2014 without a license.

The PUC voted 3-2 to fine Uber $11.4 million — a record amount for the Commission. The PUC initially considered a fine of nearly $50 million, but lowered the figure to $11.4 million because Uber “modified its internal practices” to comply with state law, PUC Commissioner John Coleman Jr. said in a release.

“Because (Uber was) transporting passengers for compensation, that places them under the PUC’s jurisdiction as a motor carrier," PUC Deputy Press Secretary Robin Tilley said. "And they needed to apply for a Certificate of Public Convenience to operate, and they did not do that.”

Uber announced it will appeal the fine. Spokesman Jason Post said the company was “shocked” by the size of the fine, and added that Uber’s actions did not harm anyone.

The company began operating in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County in February 2014.

The PUC issued a formal complaint against Uber in June 2014, and issued a cease-and-desist order the next month. Uber continued to operate, and applied for an emergency temporary authority license the same month, which was approved by the PUC, Tilley said.

In October 2014, the PUC extended Uber’s ETA until January 2015, when it granted Uber a two-year Certificate of Public Convenience for “experimental service,” Tilley said.

That certificate is set to expire in January 2017, and Tilley said the PUC wants lawmakers to make the application process easier.

“The Commission is actually pushing for new legislation before that time comes to kind of welcome Uber and Lyft and other competitors into Pennsylvania in a more efficient manner,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.