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Peduto lashes out over court order to shut down ride shares, then switches gears

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 5:31 p.m.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto lashed out at Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday, then reversed himself and praised the governor for favoring legislation that would allow ride-sharing services to operate in Pennsylvania.

Two administrative judges on Tuesday ordered Uber and Lyft to stop doing business in Pennsylvania until they get a permit. The San Francisco-based companies have applications pending before the Public Utility Commission.

Peduto first issued a statement that said, “I will not let the governor and the Public Utility Commission shut down innovation without a fight.” About four hours later, he issued a second statement that said, “I want to thank Gov. Tom Corbett for his support of laws that would adapt current state regulations to allow ride-sharing companies to grow.”

Neither the mayor's office nor Corbett's office would comment on the about-face.

Peduto is a fervent supporter of the app-based ride-sharing companies, which have been operating in Pittsburgh where it's often difficult to find transportation at night.

After Peduto's initial statement, Corbett's office said the governor had no involvement in the PUC decision and was “perplexed” by the mayor's criticism.

“We were not consulted by the PUC,” said Corbett spokesman Owen McEvoy. “The governor is actually supportive of legislation that would allow these ride companies to operate.”

The PUC filed paperwork last month seeking a cease-and-desist order for the companies because they continued to operate without a permit and despite proposed fines of $130,000 for Lyft and $95,000 for Uber.

Uber reported on its blog that it intends to “operate as usual” for an unspecified time. Spokesman Taylor Bennett did not respond to a question about how long the company intends to continue offering rides. Lyft did not return a phone call.

PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said Commonwealth Court could hold the companies in contempt if they fail to comply with the court order.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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