Pennsylvania embraces gig economy: Uber, Lyft granted permission to operate

By Michelle de Leon | Dec 15, 2016

HARRISBURG – The ride-sharing battle in Pennsylvania finally reached the end following the legalization of such services across the state.

HARRISBURG – The ride-sharing battle in Pennsylvania finally reached the end following the legalization of such services across the state.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed into law Senate Bill 984, which aimed to legalize the operation of ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft in Pennsylvania. Prior to this development, the state only offered a temporary authority to the companies.

To be specific, the ride-sharing services were granted the license to operate when the state plays host to nationwide events, during times of emergency like a train breakdown, or other uncommon incidents. The enactment of SB 984 has put an end to this back-and-forth between the companies and the state.

Apart from finally reaching a resolution with the ride-sharing companies, the state also gained another benefit from the law. One of the provisions of SB 984 is that two-thirds of the tax revenue obtained from the services would be allocated to the funds of school districts.

“This is a victory for Philadelphia’s consumers, but it is also a victory for our schools. I am very proud that the majority of the tax revenue generated by ride-sharing will go to the Philadelphia School District,” state Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) in a press release said.

He added, “Our schools need every dollar that we can find, so I’m pleased this was a part of the compromise to legalize ride-sharing in Philadelphia.”

Wolf also shared that the new law aims to send a message to companies. He believed that this move would encourage more businesses to invest in the commonwealth, especially since Uber chose Pittsburgh as the headquarters for its advanced robotics research.

“I want to thank the Legislature for working with me to finally pass a long-term solution that will allow ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate everywhere in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said.

“This bill puts an end to any question about these companies operating in our commonwealth, especially in Philadelphia."

Wolf also pointed out that the ride-sharing companies would greatly benefit the members of the community. He noted that safety precautions implemented by these service providers, such as thorough vetting of their drivers and background checks, provide added protection to consumers.

State Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Souderton), who was a supporter of the law along with Rep. Maria Donatucci (D-Philadelphia) and Hughes, further discussed the benefits of the ride-sharing services to the state.

“Transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, provide a tremendous service to the public – particularly those in areas with limited or no taxicab service,” Godshall said. “It took four years and a lot of bipartisan work to reach the compromises necessary for an agreement. Uber and Lyft have changed the way people travel in urban, suburban and rural areas and I am pleased that they, and companies like them, can now operate legally and permanently in the commonwealth.”

The law would set the requirements, conditions and the regulatory framework for the operation of the ride-sharing companies. It also covered provisions geared towards driver and consumer protection. SB 984 was sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Monongahela).

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