Ride-hailing legislation tabled until fall

Efforts to legalize such services as UberX in Philadelphia are taking a summer break.

Pennsylvania state legislators said Thursday a long-gestating bill that would establish a regulatory framework for ride hailing through apps would not be voted on before the legislature took its summer recess. It will likely be reconsidered in September, lawmakers said.

"There just isn't time in the present session," said state Rep. Robert Godshall.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft are active in Philadelphia, but the city is the only place in the state where they do business without regulatory oversight. The bill being set aside means the issue of regulation won't be resolved before the Democratic National Convention arrives in Philadelphia the last week of July. Overall, city officials don't think the failure to create regulation before the convention will be disruptive.

"We're disappointed if it gets delayed," said Brian Abernathy, a deputy managing director for the city and a mediator in negotiations that played a role in shaping the bill. "Having said that I think the status quo will go on."

But some drivers are frustrated that protections they sought through amendments to the bill, such as collective bargaining rights and a minimum wage, remain unresolved. They want to put their concerns front and center while the national spotlight is on Philadelphia and are discussing protests at the focal points of activity during the convention, Philadelphia International Airport, the Wells Fargo Center, and the Philadelphia Convention Center.

"It doesn't solve any issues," said Ali Razak, president of the Philadelphia Limousine Association who also represents Uber Black drivers. "We're still in this gray area."

Battles among players in Philadelphia also slowed the bill's progress. About 200 amendments have been proposed for the bill since it passed the House Consumer Affairs Committee last month.

Questions about the regulatory control the Philadelphia Parking Authority would have over companies such as Uber and Lyft will remain unanswered.

"We are disappointed that the House has failed to vote on a measure that has already cleared the Senate on nearly unanimous, bipartisan terms," said Craig Ewer of Uber.

The PPA said it wanted a resolution, but isn't outraged over the delay.

"They would like to get it resolved and the time frame for when that happens is out of their hands," said Martin O'Rourke, spokesman for the authority.

Postponing action until the fall also leaves in limbo how fees and tax revenue would be divided. Authorities estimated regulation could generate several million dollars in revenue, but there is an unresolved tug-of-war between the PPA and interests supporting the city school district over the funding.

jlaughlin@phillynews.com

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