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August 27, 2015

Pa. legislator unveils bill to legalize Uber, Lyft in Philadelphia

Sen. Camera Bartolotta pushes for regulatory framework covering transportation network companies

Popular rideshare services Uber and Lyft have emerged as key players in Philadelphia's transportation system despite their prohibition by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. While temporary authority was granted to both companies by the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission to operate freely in 66 of 67 Pennsylvania counties, the PPA still reserves the right to impound vehicles and levy fines against Uber and Lyft drivers in Philly. 

The status of these companies may be moving toward greater security, however, after Pennsylvania Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-46, in the southwestern corner of the state, unveiled legislation Thursday that would establish a regulatory framework for the operation of transportation network companies throughout Pennsylvania.

“Legislation is necessary to ensure these companies are allowed to operate after the temporary authority expires. It is important for state laws to keep pace with the rate of modernization,” Bartolotta said. “While there is a golden opportunity for transportation network companies to provide new options for consumers, it is also necessary that we ensure these new services operate responsibly and safely.”

In addition to consumer protections, the legislation would mandate standards for rideshare drivers, such as proper insurance coverage, vehicle safety requirements, accident reporting, and a zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs and alcohol. Individuals convicted of certain crimes including burglary, robbery and sexual offenses would be barred from offering transportation services.

Notably, the legislation, if adopted, would apply to all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

“Transportation network companies provide services in areas that, up until now, have historically been underserved. Use of these services is likely to increase if consumers continue to have positive experiences with this mode of transportation,” Bartolotta said. “The purpose of my legislation is twofold: To establish permanent authority for the TNC industry to operate statewide and to strike an appropriate balance between innovation, convenience and public safety.”