PA Governor Signs Bill Authorizing Temporary Truce Between Uber & Philadelphia

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Not even 24 hours after a Philadelphia judge repeated her previous stance that the UberX car service is operating illegally in the city, the governor of Pennsylvania signed into a law a bill that authorizes a 90-day truce between Uber and the city’s Parking Authority.

The Philadelphia Parking Authority, which regulates taxis and limousine services within city limits, has long held that UberX — the most frequently used service offered by Uber — is an illegal taxi service. The company’s Uber Black service is allowed in Philly, as drivers for that platform are licensed through the PPA.

However, during the recent July Fourth weekend, Philadelphia’s SEPTA regional rail line was dealt a huge blow when it had to take more than 100 rail cars offline over potentially dangerous defects. That would be problematic enough, if it didn’t also coincide with the Democratic National Convention, which will descend upon Philadelphia later this month.

Last week, the PPA and Uber announced a tentative truce — lasting through Sept. 30 — during which time the city would not take action against UberX drivers.

The Fair Ride Philly Coalition — a group comprised of advocates for disabled riders, taxi drivers, and even Uber Black drivers — petitioned the court earlier this week, raising concerns about the legality of UberX, the fairness of the licensing process, and the alleged lack of vehicles equipped to carry passengers with special accessibility needs.

On Tuesday evening, the judge issued a one-page order stating her position that the deal between Uber and the PPA did not change her previously expressed opinion that UberX is an illegal taxi service.

However, the legality of the Uber/PPA deal may be a moot question after Gov. Tom Wolfe signed a bill late Wednesday evening that officially authorizes the arrangement.

On page 41 of the 107-page HB 1605 [PDF], allows the PPA (and other certain city parking authorities) to adopt “reasonable temporary regulations relating to” transportation network companies like Uber.

The law explicitly bars drivers for UberX and similar services from making pre-arranged passenger pick-ups at airports, designated taxi stands, and hotels with “organized” lines of taxis outside.

If drivers make repeated violations of these rules, the PPA could move to disqualify that driver from continuing to pick up passengers for their respective service platform.

So what’s in it for the PPA?

The Authority will, per the law, receive 1% of gross receipts from all fares originating within the city limits. Two-thirds of that money paid to the PPA will go to the city’s school district, with the remaining third remitted to the PPA.

All of the above only applies until Sept. 30, but could be extended or altered if the state legislature passes a bill addressing the issue for the long term.

Obviously, Uber is fine/dandy with today’s news.

“We thank the leadership of the General Assembly for taking action to support ridesharing in Philadelphia,” reads a statement from Uber. “The legislation passed today will help ease transportation challenges in Philadelphia this summer, including during the DNC. We look forward to the passage of permanent ridesharing legislation in the fall which will bring these benefits to all Pennsylvanians.”

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