The PUC needs evidence to act on cab complaints

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Contrary to the Post-Gazette’s claims, the Public Utility Commission is very active in regulating Pittsburgh-area transportation companies (“PUC’s Deaf Ear: The Agency Fails to Monitor Existing Taxi Operators,” July 27 editorial). In truth, the PUC annually reviews and verifies the safety of more than 400 taxicabs and 600 taxi drivers in Allegheny County alone. As a matter of fact, more than a quarter of our enforcement staff works out of Pittsburgh — an impressive number considering the PUC doesn’t regulate Philadelphia taxis.

However, the long-held lore of unreliable Pittsburgh taxi service unfortunately is not supported by the evidence at my disposal. Yes, I have received a high volume of emails and phone calls in the past few months, but official complaints about taxi service reliability are rarely filed. We have only three official complaints we are currently investigating. I ask customers to help me help them. File a complaint, then work with us to follow through.

Exacerbating the low number of filed complaints is the fact that we are handcuffed by the desire — or, more accurately, lack thereof — of those making complaints to follow through. With witnesses typically unwilling to testify to the time, place and nature of the alleged unreliable service, it is idle talk. Unlike the editorial board, the PUC is required to make judgments based on evidence, not anecdotes.

With that said, the public outcry on these issues has not fallen on deaf ears. We have scheduled an Aug. 28 hearing to examine these and other transportation issues. We look forward to hearing from everyone as we work toward solutions to improve the consumer experience while maintaining safety.

ROBERT F. POWELSON
Chairman
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Harrisburg


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