Bill to Legalize UberX and Lyft Nears a Final Vote

A final form of the voluminously amended bill, currently in the state House, has the potential to reach the Senate as early as Wednesday.

A bill to legalize UberX and Lyft in Pennsylvania permanently is reaching the final stages in the state legislature this week. The bill can’t come soon enough for the ride-hailing companies, which have endured a two-year battle for the right to operate in the city. They experienced temporary success this past summer when Act 85 granted them a grace period set in place largely because of the Democratic National Convention in July and the SEPTA Regional Rail service suspension.

When the reprieve ended earlier this month, debate erupted over whether – and how – UberX and Lyft should become fully legal in the city. The Philadelphia Parking Authority renewed its crackdown on UberX and Lyft while simultaneously waiving some taxi regulations to appease cab drivers, who have long been frustrated by what they characterize as an unfair playing field with the ride-hailing companies.

On October 6th, the Court of Common Pleas ordered the ride-hailing organizations to once again cease operating in Philadelphia, but that ban was reversed the next day following opposition from the companies.

As the bill enters consideration in the House of Representatives this week, lawmakers will debate amendments that address how much power the PPA holds over UberX and Lyft and how their revenue will be allocated. During their grace period this summer, the companies paid 1 percent of their gross receipts to the PPA, which kept one-third of that amount and passed the other two-thirds to School District of Philadelphia.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Republicans, said a final form of the bill could be sent back to the Senate as early as Wednesday. The bill currently has 139 amendments, Miskin said.

Ronald Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, said earlier this month that potential legislation should put the ride-sharing and taxi industries on an even playing field – and that means UberX, Lyft and taxi drivers should be required to follow the same or similar regulations, including those that pertain to public safety, he said.

Philadelphia is the only major American city without permanent ride-sharing regulations, according to Uber.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.