Lyft seeks emergency order to operate in Pittsburgh

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The Lyft ride-sharing service has applied for an emergency order from the Public Utility Commission to allow it to operate in Pittsburgh.

"Lyft has demonstrated that the public has an immediate need for its transportation network service to improve transportation alternatives," the company's petition stated.

The petition was the second filed by ride-sharing services seeking emergency authority to operate while they await rulings on their applications for full certification.

The service known as Uber has its own petition pending before the PUC. Commission spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said she did not know when rulings might be issued, but said the agency typically moves quickly on such filings. The next commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

The PUC has said the ride-share services, which use smartphone apps to connect riders to drivers operating their personal vehicles, violate state law. Uber and Lyft have applied for experimental licenses, but both began operating in the state well before filing the applications.

Proposed daily fines of $1,000 and a July 1 cease-and-desist order from an administrative law judge did not stop the ride-sharing companies' Pittsburgh operations, and a PUC enforcement officer issued 10 citations this week to Uber and Lyft drivers.

Lyft's emergency petition suggested that obtaining traditional cab services was difficult, and included statements from 24 people who said existing taxi and public transit service did not meet their needs.

"Lyft passengers use only software embodied in a mobile application to contact drivers, providing convenience and efficiency that is not present through the arduous street hail or telephone dispatch methods used by existing motor carriers," it said.

It also said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who supports the ride-sharing services, has attested to the need for the service.

Jon Schmitz:, 412-263-1868 or on Twitter @pgtraffic.

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