Pennsylvania Considers Cease-and-Desist Order for Uber

Public Utility Commission targets the popular San Francisco-based company.


We don’t hear from Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission all that often these days, since they ceded control of Philadelphia’s taxicabs to the Philadelphia Parking Authority 10 years ago. But now, the state agency, which tends to spend most of its time regulating the telecommunication and energy industries in Pennsylvania, has popped up with complaints about Uber, the San Francisco-based car service company that has built a fiercely loyal following in the Philadelphia region.

On Monday, the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement within the PUC petitioned the agency to issue a cease-and-desist order against Uber over its UberX service.

Unlike regular Uber, which pairs riders with licensed limousine drivers, UberX pairs them with non-professional drivers, and many questions have been raised over rider safety.

UberX operates in Philadelphia's suburbs but not within the city itself due to PPA regulations. The PPA jettisoned SideCar, a service similar to UberX, from Philadelphia in 2013.

The PUC says that UberX drivers do not possess the Certificates of Public Convenience that the commission requires of anyone providing passenger service, and the Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement has already proposed a $1,000-per-day fine for Uber.

After the agency filed a complaint on June 5th, "Uber brazenly continued, and presently continues, to broker transportation using uncertified motor carriers," reads the PUC's petition. "If Uber is permitted to operate in this manner, who won't be?"

But Uber has told Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette that it has no plans to leave Pennsylvania. Hearings are scheduled for later this month, and the petition indicates that Uber has five days to formally respond.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • The Silent Majority

    Pennsylvania. Crushing the free market economy since 1776.

    Anyone that has ever been in a cab in Philadelphia knows that safety isn’t exactly a priority.

    • Eric the Red

      nor sanitation.

  • Candygram Formongo

    I feel so safe in a certified driver’s taxi.

  • Michael A DeSimone

    Mister Mayor, you have been very vocal about supporting startup companies in Philadelphia. If Uber were a Philly Co., Would you favor or oppose it?

  • terrynicol

    Taxi regulations have nothing to do with passenger safety.

  • Anonymous

    Re : Uber
    drove for Uber for slightly under two months and here’s what I
    found………….Uber is dangerous for public safety and must be
    shut down . Having to tap a small icon on the Uber device ( phone )
    to accept, cancel, arriving, etc., and more takes your eyes
    completely off of the road . You are oblivious to traffic for those
    few seconds your looking at your Uber device which can easily cause
    accidents resulting in immediate death & injury . Even if you,
    yourself cancels the fare you must proceed with why you are
    cancelling to the little green icons on your Uber device and doing so
    is a distraction, period . There are 6 icons on your Uber device
    requesting why your cancelling & you must select one by tapping
    on one of the icons . This is frequently done while driving diverting
    your eyes off the traffic ahead of you and this happened often …..
    the client will cancel for one reason or another . I received the
    cancellation notice while I was driving and while I was driving my
    eyes were taken off the road so I could respond to the beeping sound
    coming from my Uber device . This beeping sound indicates that the
    client has cancelled the fare . When getting close to the pick up
    location while driving you are required to notify the client by again
    having to locate your Uber device ( some of the drivers keep it on
    their lap ) then tapping on an “ arriving “ icon. This is more
    dangerous then texting .
    Furthermore, there is no time limit to
    driving . Unlike Taxi drivers who are limited to a ten hour driving
    period in, San Francisco an Uber driver can drive for 20 hours
    straight or more . Too much driving creates fatigue often leading to
    confusion, , falling asleep, hallucinations, dozing off and
    considerably more inattentiveness which can cause accidents resulting
    in injury and even death .
    Being an Uber driver means you are
    subjected to violating laws ( that were put there for public safety )
    such as take eight passengers in your car when there are only four
    seat belts or you will be FIRED by Uber . In my case I got a call to
    take nine passengers, including myself that which would have been ten
    people total all in a mini van . The weight itself is enough to cause
    my tires to rub against the wheel wells of my van creating sparks
    from stones trapped in the threading of my tires which could ignite
    the fuel tank causing an explosion even killing all those passengers
    that are trapped inside my mini Van . It was dangerous . That much
    weight often causes unintentional swerving resulting in another
    accident with more deaths or injuries . Because I didn’t take all
    nine passengers out to, Isla Vista from downtown Santa Barbara and
    only took the legal amount of five ( six including myself ) the
    passengers gave me a one rating . So, over safety concerns I was
    FIRED by Uber from driving for doing what was lawfully right and
    after I explained to my, Santa Barbara – Uber representatives via
    email numerous times about having to take too many passengers
    creating unsafe driving conditions so I could be reinstated my
    request was ignored . You are rated after each fare by your
    passenger(s) from one to five and if your rating is too low you will
    be FIRED . This causes drivers to violate the law in order to
    maintain a high rating or their driving privileges with Uber will be
    suspended . So, refusing to take all nine passengers ( 10 including
    myself ) because it is unlawful , dangerous and of a safety concern
    to your passengers and yourself is a reason a driver will be FIRED .
    This means failing to run red lights at customer request means you
    will be FIRED by Uber .
    There are no vehicle inspections required
    by Uber drivers meaning if your car’s brakes are failing or wipers
    not working it’s still OK to drive in the rain . Does Uber care
    your brakes are failing or wipers aren’t working ? Probally not .
    They just want their 20% share of your fare and will claim no
    responsibility if your involved in an accident because they will say
    your an independent driver . Then if a claim is put against the
    driver’s insurance Company that claim will be denied because you
    were using the vehicle commercially . It is illegal to use your
    vehicle commercially unless you get commercial registration and
    insurance . Uber drivers do not have commercial insurance and
    probally most don’t get commercial registration for their vehicles
    or the proper insurances so driving commercially for Uber is
    technically illegal . Not getting commercial plates and insurance
    means the loss of millions of dollars for all States .

  • go for it

    If UberX is allowed to continue that means anyone with a vehicle can do the same thing … This guy came up with an idea of an app that’s all and has no knowledge of what it takes to be a common carrier .. why would the taxi or limousine industry need to be licensed and deal with all the regs and the fees and the violations … for the publics safety … this whole idea is crazy