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Municipal government / Transportation

UberX is now legal pretty much everywhere in Pa. — but not Philly

Despite "its anarchist ways," Uber just got a two-year permit to operate UberX in Pennsylvania.

Clarion County, Pa., aka somewhere you can now legally order an UberX ride. (Photo by Flickr user Cole Young, used under a Creative Commons license)

UberX will ride on in Pennsylvania with the state’s blessing. But not in Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which regulates taxis statewide, granted transportation company Uber a two-year, experimental permit to operate its lower-cost, ridesharing service UberX. That doesn’t include Philadelphia, however, because the Philadelphia Parking Authority has jurisdiction over the city.

It was a 4-1 vote, with at least one board member voting in favor of the permit reluctantly.

Today's decision by the PUC has no impact on the PPA's enforcement strategy against hack taxi operations in the city.

“Let me put it in plain English, Uber,” board member John Cawley said, as reported by the AP. “This is your last chance with this commission … to abandon its anarchist ways and to finally become a responsible, lawful corporate citizen.”

The PUC’s ruling sets an interesting precedent for how the state might interact with companies that want to operate in Pennsylvania. After all, UberX had been operating for months without a license in the Philadelphia suburbs and even lied to the state agency about that — not to mention Uber flouting a cease-and-desist order in Allegheny County.

Uber has also spent more than $93,000 lobbying Harrisburg this year. It’ll be worth watching to see if Uber continues to fight for friendly legislation (perhaps in hopes of getting permission to operate in Philly?), even if it already has a temporary permit.

The experimental license excludes a handful of counties that Uber didn’t include in its application, including Beaver, Lycoming and Northumberland.

As for the PPA?

“Today’s decision by the PUC has no impact on the PPA’s enforcement strategy against hack taxi operations in the city,” executive director Vince Fenerty told the Inquirer Thursday. “Unlike all other municipalities in the Commonwealth, Philadelphia has an existing legislatively mandated medallion taxi cab system.”

Oh, and Lyft, the other ridesharing service that applied for a state license, is still waiting: its application is pending, said PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

Companies: Lyft / Uber

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