February 12, 2015

Sen. Fontana’s Bill Would Legalize, Regulate Ride-Sharing Services

Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (D-Allegheny) Thursday re-introduced legislation-- Senate Bill 447 (not yet online)-- that would legalize, regulate and license transportation network (ride-sharing) companies in Pennsylvania.
Uber and Lyft, and other so-called ride-sharing service companies, use a software platform that enables riders to connect with drivers using smartphone technology.  The driver and rider connect and a fee is charged for the transportation.
The companies are currently operating throughout the state under a temporary licensing agreement with the Public Utility Commission.
Sen. Fontana said his new bill incorporates several changes aimed at addressing safety and liability issues that were brought up last year during PUC hearings.
“As I said last year, I am committed to making this growing transportation alternative safe, reliable, accountable and adequately regulated,” Sen. Fontana said. “I am confident this bill delivers on those assurances.”
Sen. Fontana said his bill would provide reasonable PUC regulation, restriction and oversight. For example, the legislation would require TNCs to establish driver training programs, have a zero tolerance alcohol and drug use policy, have adequate liability insurance coverage, implement extensive criminal and sexual abuse background check systems and maintain detailed records.
The bill would also mandate that drivers be at least 21-years-old and have an updated photo in plain view. Drivers would also be required to notify their auto insurance provider that they are a TNC driver. They would be prohibited from requiring passengers to sign a liability waiver or picking up passengers who attempt to “hail” the vehicle while in use.
Sen. Fontana said he worked closely with PUC commissioners, transportation industry officials and other lawmakers who introduced separate versions of the licensing legislation.
Fontana introduced his initial bill-- Senate Bill 1457-- last July.
That measure remained in the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure until the 2013-14 session ended late last year. He said the growth of the industry and its expansion throughout Pennsylvania should improve the bill’s chances for enactment this session.
“I am confident fellow lawmakers will embrace this modern technology that provides transportation alternatives and gives citizens more choices,” Sen. Fontana said.  “I will continue to work closely with PUC and other industry stakeholders to assure that this promising transportation alternative remains available, regulated and safe.”