Tuesday, February 17, 2015

NAME THAT PARTY: Pa. legislator wants to legalize, regulate ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft


As Uber and Lyft battle it out for ride-hailing supremacy, a Pennsylvania legislator has proposed a bill that legalizes the service and addresses concerns about safety and liability.

The expansion of ride-hailing companies, which use a downloaded app and smartphone GPS to match passengers with nearby drivers, has led to the introduction of bills that aim to regulate the services.

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny County, reintroduced a bill that legalizes, regulates and licenses "transportation network companies." Currently, Uber and Lyft are operating under an experimental two-year license granted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

"As I said last year, I am committed to making this growing transportation alternative safe, reliable, accountable and adequately regulated," Fontana said in a prepared release. "I am confident this bill delivers on those assurances."

The bill contains a number of regulations for ride-hailing companies.

The legislation would require companies to establish driver training programs, have a zero tolerance alcohol and drug use policy, have adequate liability insurance coverage, implement extensive criminal and sexual abuse background check systems and maintain detailed records.

Fontana's bill would also mandate that drivers be at least 21-years-old and have an updated photo in plain view. Drivers would also be required to notify their auto insurance provider that they are a ride-hailing service driver.

Uber Spokesman Taylor Bennett applauded Fontana for continuing to advocate for clear, uniform rules for ride-sharing across the entire state.

Bennett said Uber looks forward to continuing to work with the legislature and providing access to safe, reliable rides and the jobs they create.

On Jan. 30, Uber officials joined Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse to announce that the UberX ride-hailing service would be available in the capital city. UberX services -- the company's cheapest and most basic option -- will be available from Carlisle to Hershey.

While Uber has already started operating in Harrisburg, Lyft Spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson has said the company does not have plans to launch in Harrisburg at this time.


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