Ride-sharing service’s bid for permanent status in Pa. hits roadblock

 Uber's service area in the Philadelphia area. (Electronic Image via Uber.com)

Uber's service area in the Philadelphia area. (Electronic Image via Uber.com)

Two Public Utility Commission judges have said the board should deny an application by the ride-sharing company Uber to permanently set up shop in Pennsylvania.

Uber now has a limited presence in Philadelphia and is operating in Pittsburgh on a temporary basis.

The PUC judges said Thursday the company’s request to permanently operate in the state should be rejected partly because of its actions in Pittsburgh. They said Uber flouted a previous cease-and-desist order there.

In a statement, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said the judges’ recommendation “completely reinforces the critical need for state legislation that embraces innovation and gives all Pennsylvanians more choice.”

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, introduced a bill this summer that would legalize ride-sharing services throughout the state. He said a number of residents have written to his office in support of ride-sharing.

“Hundreds and hundreds of emails from my constituents … pointed out to me over and over again about the lack of taxi service in my city, Pittsburgh,” he said. “Story after story about how they couldn’t get a cab or it showed up two hours late. [Ride-sharing] is a whole different way of providing service.”

Opponents of Fontana’s proposal have said ride-sharing companies have an unfair advantage over taxi services.

The PUC is expected to make a decision later this year. The outcome will not affect Uber’s operation in Philadelphia because the Philadelphia Parking Authority, not the PUC, oversees the company’s services in the city.

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