Ride-sharing legislation unlikely until September

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HARRISBURG — State leg­is­la­tors are pre­par­ing bills to al­low ride-shar­ing ser­vices such as Uber and Lyft to op­er­ate in Penn­syl­va­nia, as Mayor Bill Peduto re­quested af­ter two judges Tues­day or­dered a halt to op­er­a­tions.

With the Gen­eral As­sem­bly pre­par­ing to leave town af­ter it re­solves fi­nal de­tails re­lated to the an­nual state bud­get, those bills are highly un­likely to see ac­tion be­fore the next sched­uled ses­sion days in mid-Sep­tem­ber.

The House and the Senate have an Al­le­gheny County mem­ber pre­par­ing leg­is­la­tion to al­low and reg­u­late ride-shar­ing ser­vices.

“It’s the fu­ture; there’s no doubt,” said Rep. John Ma­her, R-Up­per St. Clair, who is seek­ing co-spon­sors for his bill.

“When we have a world­wide tech cap­i­tal like Pitts­burgh, with all of the dig­i­tal and com­puter in­no­va­tions, we ought to be at the cut­ting edge.”

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, said con­stit­u­ents have said they want to use the ride-shar­ing ser­vices, which al­low driv­ers and pas­sen­ger to con­nect through their smart­phones.

“We want to keep them go­ing, and the only thing that’s go­ing to do that, ap­par­ently, is leg­is­la­tion from the state level,” Mr. Fontana said.

State law re­quires par­ties of­fer­ing trans­por­ta­tion for pay to hold a li­cense. Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion Chair­man Robert Pow­el­son has met with leg­is­la­tors to seek leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide for the ride-shar­ing ser­vices, said Jen­ni­fer Kocher, spokes­woman for the PUC.

Senate Minor­ity Leader Jay Costa, D-For­est Hill, said there are le­git­i­mate pub­lic-safety con­cerns with the ride-shar­ing ser­vices: is­sues of in­sur­ance and li­a­bil­ity

“I think the PUC is do­ing a thor­ough re­view of this,” Mr. Costa said.

“We think Uber and Lyft are im­por­tant to our city, but at the end of the day, the level of re­view I think is ap­pro­pri­ate, and I be­lieve will come to an ap­pro­pri­ate res­o­lu­tion very soon.”

As for chang­ing the law, spokes­men for the Re­pub­li­can lead­ers who con­trol the sched­ules in the House and Senate said leg­is­la­tion could not be con­sid­ered be­fore mem­bers re­turn to reg­u­larly sched­uled ses­sion days Sept. 15.

Karen Lan­g­ley: klan­g­ley@post-ga­zette.com or 717-787-2141 or on Twit­ter @karen_lan­g­ley.

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