Regulators in Pennsylvania have put the brakes on the popular ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, slapping them with potential fines after a sting operation discovered improperly licensed vehicles.
Lyft faces a proposed fine of $130,000 and Uber faces a fine of $95,000 levied by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC), agency press secretary Jennifer Kocher said, noting that the two companies were fined for not having proper licenses and therefore were unable to prove the cars are safe and inspected.
Each company faces fines of $1,000 per day for every day since they began operations in Pittsburgh. In addition, twelve Lyft drivers and eleven Uber drivers were penalized $1,000 each and face the threat of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of suspending their vehicle registration, Kocher said.
The sting operation didn't require a lot of investigation. The apps that made it easy to summon rides from Lyft and Uber made it easy for an undercover officer to track down drivers and issue them citations for driving without licenses, Kocher told ABC News today.
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An undercover officer tracked down 23 Uber and Lyft drivers using the mobile apps. Posing as a customer, the PUC officer used his smartphone and requested cabs through the mobile apps, according to Kocher.
The officer cited the drivers between March 31 and April 21 by taking a variety of rides, according to Kocher.
“When you request a ride, you get the name of the driver and the license plate number,” Kocher said.
Lyft and Uber supply rides, with drivers using their own cars based on real-time requests. Lyft drivers attach a pink moustache to their grill for identification.
“The citations are the first in the state against drivers for those companies,” Kocher said.
The three biggest concerns of PUC are driver background checks, proper insurance, and proper inspections, according to Kocher. Lyft and Uber have filed for license applications, but the applications are pending with PUC.
Last Thursday, Colorado became the first state whose legislature passed a law regulating companies like Uber and Lyft.
“I am seeking to speak with PUC officials for an update on the status of ride-sharing in the state. I remain a big supporter of the services as long as they’re safe and regulated," Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told ABC affiliate WTAE.
"The people of Pittsburgh deserve more transportation choices," said Lyft spokeswoman, Paige Thelen, in a statement. "They have enthusiastically welcomed Lyft to the city for affordable, convenient and safe rides."
Thelen said Lyft is committed to working with Pennsylvania leaders to develop new rules for this new industry. The company will stand strong with drivers and passengers every step of the way, fight any citations, cover relevant costs, and make policy progress.
Representatives for Uber can not be reached for comment by ABC News.