Uber and Lyft Ordered to Stop Service in Philadelphia, But Will They?

by | October 7, 2016

By Jason Laughlin

Uber and Lyft, the major ride hailing app providers in Philadelphia, has not decided whether they will abide by a judge's demand that they stop operating their popular ride sharing services in the city.

"We are reviewing the judge's order," Craig Ewer, an Uber spokesman, said in a statement. "This order makes it even more clear that the clock has run out for Harrisburg to pass a comprehensive ridesharing bill."

A Common Pleas court judge issued a cease and desist order to UberX and Lyft Thursday, the latest yank in an ongoing tug of war over the legality of ride hailing apps in Philadelphia. The injunction was issued before noon Thursday and went into effect immediately. As of 2:30 p.m. it appeared both UberX and Lyft were still operating in Philadelphia.

In its statement, Lyft noted it and Uber were not named in the suit filed against the Philadelphia Parking Authority that led to the injunction.

"Today's hearing was about a case that did not involve Lyft and which Lyft was not given the opportunity to respond," said Chelsea, Harrison, a spokeswoman for Lyft. "We are reviewing the order and evaluating our legal options."

The order from Judge Linda Carpenter stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Ron Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Philadelphia and others, including Matt Clark, a member of an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

Carpenter's order stated that the ride hailing app companies could be held in contempt of court if they continued to operate.

The suit, originally filed in July, sought to block a detente between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the two ride hailing app companies, but additional filings have faulted the PPA for failing to properly enforce regulations governing private transportation services in Philadelphia. The suit argues the PPA is filing to provide equal protection to all the providers of car services in the city, said Ted Millstein, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, and as a result the city's disabled population because Uber and Lyft do not have to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as taxis do, Millstein said.

"The Authority will comply with all lawful orders of the court and is continuing to review this matter," said Martin O'Rourke, PPA spokesman, in an emailed statement.

A temporary authorization from the Pennsylvania General Assembly that month superseded the PPA's agreement, and made Blount's challenge null. But that authorization expired last week, giving Blount's suit new life, even though the agreement between the PPA and the two companies is no longer in effect. The PPA announced Tuesday it would treat UberX and Lyft as illegal car services in Philadelphia.

"You can say something is illegal all you want but unless you do something about it its meaningless," Millstein said.

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