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September 30, 2016

State lawmakers to consider bill legalizing Uber, Lyft in Philly

The state House plans to act on legislation in mid-October

Transportation Legislation
Carroll - Uber Lyft Taxi Showdown Thom Carroll, File/PhillyVoice

An UberX driver keeps his Uber sticker in his car console when driving in Philly.

State lawmakers intend to consider legislation that would permanently authorize ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Philadelphia when they return to legislative session in mid-October.

A temporary agreement permitting Uber and Lyft to operate in the city expires Saturday, leaving the popular ridesharing companies to again operate illegally.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives plans to consider legislation that would authorize and regulate ridesharing services when legislative sessions commence Oct. 17. Stephen Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Dave Reed, announced the lawmakers' intent Thursday via Twitter.

The Senate passed legislation to regulate ridesharing services last November. The House amended the bill before tabling it in June. But the General Assembly temporarily authorized Uber and Lyft to operate in Philadelphia as part of the budget deal.

That temporary agreement — which included a tax that benefited the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Parking Authority — expires Saturday.

Riders who utilize Uber and Lyft might not recognize a difference. But the company's drivers potentially could face impoundment, if the PPA opts to enforce the companies' unauthorized status.

On Friday, Uber urged the PPA, which regulates taxi and limousine services in the city, to maintain the status quo.

"Today we made an emergency filing with the PPA to extend the existing ridesharing regulations that have been in place since the summer," Uber spokesperson Carlie Waibel said in a statement. "We will continue operating in compliance with these legal requirements. We are hopeful the General Assembly will keep the commitment it has made to take up comprehensive ridesharing legislation in October."

The PPA responded with a statement vowing to act in "the best interests of the public," but did not elaborate.

"The General Assembly is in the process of reviewing legislation to permanently legalize TNC service in Philadelphia," agency spokesman Marty O'Rourke said in the statement. "In the event that consideration extends beyond the Sept. 30 sunset date of Act 85, the PPA will act in a manner consistent with the best interests of the public. We remain committed to working with all parties involved to quickly resolve this issue and will place a priority on ensuring the safety of all passengers."

Enacted in July, the temporary agreement enabled ridesharing services to operate legally through Friday in Philadelphia, the only county in Pennsylvania where they could not operate legally. Throughout the rest of the state, ridesharing services operate under the regulation of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission.

The temporary agreement included a one-percent ridesharing tax on all rides. The School District of Philadelphia receives two-thirds of the tax revenue; the PPA gets the other third.