Peduto presses ahead on ride share support


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While on an errand Friday morning to pick up toothpaste and shampoo, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he will continue to press the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and legislators for a resolution to the ride-sharing debate in Pittsburgh.

“Hopefully the PUC will grant them licenses with the same rules and regulations in place for taxis,” the mayor said, while riding in a Lyft vehicle.

Lyft and Uber moved into the Pittsburgh area earlier this year, enlisting drivers in their own cars who connect with passengers via smartphone apps. On July 24, after months of threats, including proposed daily fines of $1,000 and cease-and-desist orders, the PUC granted both companies temporary emergency authority to operate in Allegheny County, with conditions attached.

Pittsburgh's mayor gets a Lyft

Mayor Bill Peduto took a spin in Brad Hoffman's Lyft car to share what he thinks of new innovation in Pittsburgh. (Video by Madasyn Czebiniak; 8/1/2014)

As of Friday, a PUC spokeswoman said neither company had indicated they were in compliance with the terms of the emergency order.

The PUC has scheduled hearings in Pittsburgh for each company to consider applications for permanent experimental service. And state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, has a bill ready for consideration when the Legislature returns Sept. 15. Senate Bill 1457 would create a new “transportation network company” category for ride shares,and require detailed records, establish driver training programs, enforce a zero-tolerance policy on drug and alcohol use, and conduct background checks and driver guidelines. 

VIDEO: Mayor Peduto takes a spin in a ride share

Mr. Peduto, an outspoken supporter of ride sharing, said there were several possible avenues that could be pursued. He pointed out the system Philadelphia uses, which puts oversight of taxis and limousines under the Philadelphia Parking Authority as one option or decreasing the amount of regulatory oversight over taxis and ride shares.

“Why is the PUC in charge of this industry?” the mayor asked. 

Meanwhile on Friday, the PUC issued a reminder about how to lodge complaints about taxi service. 

“To ensure the complaint can be acted upon, we need consumers who are willing to testify to the time, place and nature of the alleged issue with their taxi service,” said PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson. Consumers can file an informal complaint through the PUC’s website or by calling the PUC’s Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-800-692-7380

Mr. Powelson said last month that the agency had received a high volume of emails and phone calls from ride share supporters about problems with taxi service in Pittsburgh. 

“This has been a real eye-opener for me,” Mr. Powelson said at the time. 

 

Kim Lyons: klyons@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1241. On Twitter: @SocialKimly


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