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PUC files petitions against ride-share companies Lyft, Uber

| Monday, June 16, 2014, 11:06 p.m.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission stepped up its legal battle against ride-share companies Uber and Lyft on Monday, filing paperwork seeking a cease-and-desist order that would prohibit the companies from offering rides.

The PUC's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement filed a 20-page petition against Lyft and a 22-page petition against Uber asking commissioners to schedule a hearing before an administrative law judge by June 26.

The cease-and-desist requests occur less than two weeks after the enforcement division filed paperwork proposing fining Lyft $130,000 and Uber $95,000 for what the agency calls illegal operations since they started in February and March, respectively. The commission also proposed fining 23 previously cited drivers $1,000 each.

Lyft and Uber, based in San Francisco, have five days to respond. Neither firm responded to requests for comment.

Lyft and Uber told the Tribune-Review last week that they would continue to operate in Pittsburgh despite the fines and pledged to cover the costs of PUC citations to their drivers.

The commission contends that with their operating without a license and using uncertified drivers, it cannot ensure driver integrity, vehicle safety and sufficient insurance coverage.

“Until these important questions are resolved and Uber, as well as Uber drivers, become licensed or certified entities that abide by the commission's important safety regulations, the commission should demand that Uber cease from operating,” attorneys for the PUC wrote.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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