Rivals try to block Uber, Lyft in Pittsburgh
Controversial ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber will have a showdown with dozens of traditional taxi companies in the coming weeks as they seek a permanent operating license from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
Lyft is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday and Friday before two administrative law judges, and Uber is scheduled for a similar hearing Aug. 18 and 19. The judges will make a recommendation to the PUC.
The companies, which allow people to hail a ride via a smartphone app, received a 60-day approval from the PUC on July 24.
“We're actively working with the PUC to meet the requirements and look forward to moving ahead in the process and creating a permanent home for Uber,” said spokesman Taylor Bennett. “It's great the city and its leaders have embraced innovation and choice.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are ardent supporters of Lyft and Uber.
Not everyone is, though. As of Friday, opponents from across the state filed 57 petitions against Lyft and 59 against Uber. Many of those people are expected to testify at the hearings.
“Approval of the application is not necessary or proper for the accommodation, service, necessity or safety of the public,” according to the petition from Billtown Cab Co. of Williamsport. “Applicant is not fit to provide the proposed service.”
Chuck Half, manager of projects and productivity for VETaxi, owned by Star Transportation, said his company does not oppose ride-sharing services; it just wants to ensure the PUC makes them pay the same fees and abide by the same rules as his company.
“We welcome competition, but there are expenses we have to pay (to the PUC),” Half said.
Regardless of what the PUC decides, state lawmakers likely will have the final say. At their meeting last week, PUC commissioners even emphasized it. A bill pending in Harrisburg would allow ride-sharing services, but the full Legislature does not return until September and is in session for only one day after October.
“I think the commissioners want to see the legislation passed. I think they're hoping the legislation takes control and does the job,” said Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, a primary sponsor of the bill. “If it wasn't for the (pending) legislation, I don't think they would have granted the 60-day approval.”
Similar battles have been waged across the country. Colorado in June became the first state to pass legislation authorizing ride-sharing. Legislation in other states, such as Maryland, has failed. Some cities, such as Minneapolis, have passed ordinances allowing ride-sharing.
“Cities and states across the country, including Colorado, California, Minneapolis and Seattle, have stepped up to embrace innovation in transportation by drafting common-sense rules that prioritize public safety and consumer choice,” Lyft spokeswoman Paige Thelen said.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh region’s philanthropic sector at top of nation’s pack
- 7 percent in Allegheny County able to carry concealed gun
- Mt. Lebanon puts temporary halt on deer kill
- Merged United Way to reveal 5-year plan aimed at Western Pa. children
- Group reports ethnically charged comments in Moroccan taxi driver’s Hazelwood shooting
- Lane restrictions announced for portion of Route 28
- School bus heavily damaged in Homewood fire
- Woman shot in shoulder during McKeesport fight
- Reliability of DNA evidence — vomit found near Mt. Oliver murder scene — doubted in trial
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh gets $500K estate gift
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall