By Ian Bush


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The relationship between ride-hailing apps and Pennsylvania? It’s complicated.

Uber can operate its black car service in Philadelphia, but the Parking Authority has deemed the lower-cost UberX and Lyft illegal. Those ridesharing companies are rolling across the rest of the commonwealth with a temporary license.

Now, a coalition of pro-business groups is behind a push to make them permanent.

They call themselves ‘Driving Philly Forward.’ The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Bicycle Coalition, Licensed Beverages and Tavern Association, and the e-commerce trade group NetChoice have joined to gin up support for the bill.

“We would urge elected officials to join the call to get rid of boundaries to economic opportunity here in Philadelphia,” says member Michael Banks, who heads the African American Chamber of Commerce.

The coalition is pushing legislation that would allow the taxi alternatives in Philadelphia and across the rest of Pennsylvania, where they’re now operating under an experimental license from the state Public Utility Commission.

“It actually lets everyone take advantage of a technology that, honestly, is not going away,” says Republican state senator Camera Bartolotta, who authored the bill. “[It] mandates statewide requirements for insurance coverage, vehicle safety inspections, accident reporting, and a zero-tolerance policy for use of drugs and alcohol.”

Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce communications director Liz Ferry says UberX and Lyft generate business at places underserved by mass transit and offer benefits to those behind the wheel.

“Many folks who do this only drive 15 hours or less a week,” she says. “They may be unemployed or seeking employment and it helps subsidize their earnings.”

Taxi and limo drivers, whose own coalition ‘Let Philly Ride’ had no immediate comment on the opposition’s new campaign, have held several traffic-jamming protests in Center City, railing against the unregulated UberX and Lyft for undercutting prices and against the PPA for not cracking down harder.