Uber gains PUC approval to operate in most of Pa. for 2 years |

Uber gains PUC approval to operate in most of Pa. for 2 years

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave the green light Thursday to allow Uber to operate ride-sharing services across the state — except Philadelphia — for the next two years.

The commissioners gave preliminary approval in November to Uber if it met certain conditions. Among them: Uber must provide primary insurance coverage for its drivers during trips, cars more than eight years old are prohibited, certain trip data must be turned over to the PUC, and drivers must notify their insurance companies that they are using their vehicles to transport passengers for money.

The 5-0 commission vote constituted approval of Uber’s plan to meet those requirements.

Uber, known as UberX in Pittsburgh, and rival ride-share company Lyft have been battling with state regulators since they started operating in Pittsburgh early this year. Lyft has gained preliminary approval, but the commissioners are still mulling that company’s compliance plan.

The Legislature failed to act on a bill last year that would carve out a niche in the law for the companies, which allow users to hail a ride via a smartphone application. State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, said he planned to introduce the bill again this session.

PUC Chairman Robert Powelson said he was “exhausted by this case” and that he looked forward to working with the General Assembly on the issue.

The approval does not end the battle over whether Uber should be fined for operating during a cease-and-desist order. The agency’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement proposed fining Uber $19 million. A hearing before two administrative law judges is scheduled in February.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or [email protected].

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