Upon further review, PUC says record fine against Uber stands in Pennsylvania

(AP, file)

(AP, file)

Pennsylvania regulators will not back down from an $11.4 million fine on ride-hailing company Uber for operating illegally in the state.

A vote on Thursday from the Public Utility Commission refusing to reconsider the fine comes over objections from Gov. Tom Wolf, who calls the penalty excessive.

The $11.4 million state regulators say Uber owes them is a record. It’s more than six times higher than the next-highest fine from the agency that oversees taxi services among other things.

Uber is legal across nearly all of the state under a two-year deal, but the company operated for six months in 2014 without permission.

And during that time, regulators say Uber completed more than 120,000 rides in defiance of Pennsylvania law. Officials say Uber posed a public safety risk for not proving that its drivers and insurance policies met state standards during those six months in 2014.

Uber plans to appeal the fine in state court.

“We are shocked that the PUC would compound its past mistakes and send the troubling message that Pennsylvania is unwelcoming to technology and innovation,” said Uber Spokesman Craig Ewer.

Ewer said the fine demonstrates why lawmakers in Harrisburg need to pass statewide ridesharing legislation.

A bill that would legalize ridesharing companies like Uber has passed the Senate. And in May, the legislation moved out of committee in the House but never received a full House vote before the General Assemby recessed for the summer.

In Philadelphia, the only city where the two-year agreement does not apply because the Philadelphia Parking Authority oversees taxis, a separate deal was struck to legalize Uber beginning with the Democratic National Convention, but the short-term legal reprieve expires at the end of the month.

In a statement, Gov. Wolf said he is disappointed with the commission’s decision to levy the large penalty. Uber provides jobs throughout the state and helps make communities safer and more accessible, Wolfe said.

“We should be supporting emerging companies investing in Pennsylvania like Uber,” Wolfe said.

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