Brookline – July 24, 2014 – State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today said he was pleased by the five-member Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) unanimous vote today to allow Uber and Lyft to continue providing so-called “ride-share” service in Allegheny County.

Fontana, who has introduced legislation (Senate Bill 1457) that would legalize and regulate transportation network companies in Pennsylvania, said he worked closely with PUC officials to grant temporary licenses so the companies can continue operating while the General Assembly considers his bill.

“Today’s unanimous decision demonstrates the PUC’s commitment to embracing modern technology, accommodating transportation alternatives and giving citizens more choices,” Fontana said. “I will continue to work closely with PUC and Allegheny County officials to assure that this promising transportation alternative remains available, regulated and safe.”

Uber and Lyft, and other ride-sharing service companies, use a software platform that enables riders to connect with drivers using smartphone technology. The driver and rider connect and a fee is charged for the transportation.

Citing a no legal authority to operate under Pennsylvania law, the PUC ordered Uber and Lyft to cease and desist operations in June. Today’s PUC action gives the companies emergency temporary authority to operate in Allegheny County for 60 days as an “experimental transportation network.” The companies would need to request an extension if the permanent licensing issues are not resolved at that time.

As part of the agreement for the temporary licenses, both companies said they would meet certain obligations such as driver integrity, vehicle safety and adequate liability coverage.

Fontana said Senate Bill 1457 would provide reasonable regulation, restrictions and oversight. For example, the legislation would require ride-share companies to establish driver training programs, have a zero tolerance alcohol and drug use policy, have adequate liability insurance coverage, implement a background check system and maintain detailed records. It would also mandate that drivers have an updated photo in plain view and ban drivers from picking up passengers who attempt to “hail” the vehicle while in use.

The bill is currently under consideration in the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure.