Ride-sharing company Lyft meets state requirements to operate

by: ADAM BRANDOLPH, TribLIVE Updated:

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PITTSBURGH —

Ride-sharing company Lyft successfully navigated a bumpy road to become legal in Allegheny County, at least for now.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved the company's application to operate for 60 days. A spokeswoman for the state agency did not return calls.

(This article was written by Adam Brandolph, a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)

“Today marks an exciting milestone for the Lyft community,” said company spokeswoman Paige Thelen. “We look forward to continuing to work with the PUC and state legislature on a permanent solution for community-powered transportation in Pennsylvania.”

Lyft and its similar counterpart, Uber, connect drivers in their own cars with passengers via smartphone applications. The companies began operating in Pittsburgh this year until the PUC sought a cease-and-desist order in June, claiming the companies were operating as unlicensed transportation brokers and using noncertified drivers.

During that time, Lyft racked up fines of $130,000 and Uber incurred fines of $95,000.

The PUC's decision for Lyft turns the focus to Uber, which will have to reapply if the agency does not approve its application by Aug. 25. It remains under a cease-and-desist order.

Uber spokeswoman Taylor Bennett said the company submitted proof of compliance and would meet all regulatory requirements.

“We're working to amend our insurance policy; that should be completed in the next few days,” Bennett said.

A hearing for Uber's permanent application is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday. Lyft's hearing is scheduled for Aug. 27.

Tim McNulty, a spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said he was “happy at the news today, but we're really focused on a long-term solution.”

Jamie Campolongo, CEO of Yellow Cab, which long has held the monopoly on taxis in the city, could not be reached for comment. Yellow Cab's app-based ride-sharing service, Yellow X, received PUC approval in May.