Pa. Senator Wants to Legalize UberX, Lyft in Philly

Sen. Camera Barto's bill would legalize ride-hailing app services statewide — including Philly.

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Promotional photos from the press kits of Uber (left) and Lyft

Hailing an UberX may now be worse than taking a Philly cab these days, but the service’s popularity is undeniable. The problem? UberX (as well as Lyft, a competing ride-hailing app) is illegal in the city of Philadelphia.

A Harrisburg senator is hoping to change that. On Thursday, State Sen. Camera Bartolotta, a Republican, unveiled legislation that would legalize ride-hailing services in all areas of the state. Currently, UberX and Lyft are operating under temporary authority in all Pennsylvania counties except Philadelphia. The PPA has occasionally impounded UberX vehicles in sting operations.

“Legislation is necessary to ensure these companies are allowed to operate after the temporary authority expires. It is important for state laws to keep pace with the rate of modernization,” Bartolotta said in a statement. “While there is a golden opportunity for transportation network companies to provide new options for consumers, it is also necessary that we ensure these new services operate responsibly and safely.”

Bartolotta won election in the 46th district last year in her first run for public office. She says her legislation would require ride-hailing companies and drivers to meet several requirements: Maintain insurance, hit minimum vehicle safety requirements and promptly report accidents.

The bill would also ban drivers with convictions for things like burglary, robbery or sex crimes from working for one of the services.