Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. were issued cease and desist orders on Tuesday from Judges Mary D. Long and Jeffrey A. Watson. They’ve been directed to immediately halt operations in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until they secure the appropriate authority from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).
The judges were reportedly convinced that Uber and Lyft are a threat to public safety. The PUC’s investigation and enforcement bureau filed a petition in June asking the agency to shut down the ride-sharing companies.
The PUC’s primary concerns regarding Lyft and Uber involve driver background checks, proper insurance, and proper inspections. However, both companies have very strict background checks, insurance schemes in place, and procedures in place to drop drivers with unsatisfactory vehicles.
The public has openly embraced the company’s services, however the judges said the PUC has a higher duty than public convenience. They stated that “before transportation can be provided to the public for compensation, a certificate of public convenience issued by the commission is necessary.”
“We are not blind or deaf to the public opinion, at least in the Pittsburgh area, that the transportation needs of many individuals are not adequately met by currently certificated carriers. Nor are we unmindful of the potential benefits of the service proposed by Lyft,” they added. “Therefore, it may seem to some that our order here is contrary to the public interest in the ability of individuals to secure transportation in a timely manner.”
Paige Thelen, a spokeswoman for Lyft, said in a statement that “the city’s residents enthusiastically welcomed Lyft’s arrival in February; passengers have come to rely on Lyft for community-powered rides; and Lyft drivers enjoy the economic opportunity that it provides.”
According to The Cato Institute, this cease and desist order is an example “of outdated regulatory framework that is understandably failing to keep up with technology being used by innovative companies.”
Lyft and Uber were given seven days to file a response, and the PUC has until the end of the month to make its final decision.