Lyft, Uber applications raise complicated legal issues

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I support ride sharing for the economic and environmental benefits that it offers. But, as a lawyer, I can tell you there are very real legal implications to allowing unlicensed ride-sharing networks on Pittsburgh streets (“Peduto, Fitzgerald and Fontana Urge the PUC to Reverse Course on Ride Sharing,” July 10 online story).

Lyft and Uber are seeking permission from the Public Utility Commission to operate here. Both applications were protested because of issues related to insurance and public safety. There are legitimate questions that need to be answered before ride sharing can take effect.

Let’s not put the cart before the horse in the rush to modernize public transportation, as some local leaders are doing by advocating for Uber and Lyft to operate before these issues are resolved. Would these same officials advocate for a developer to begin building before acquiring the proper zoning and necessary permits? Or support a new restaurant that did not have a health inspection or license to operate?

Questions surrounding insurance protections for drivers, passengers and pedestrians should be studied closely and taken seriously. Until then, I wonder: If an unlicensed ride-sharing company has an accident, where will our local leaders stand then?

Kenneth J. Fryncko
Squirrel Hill


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