Uber, the ride-sharing company, should not be given permanent authority to operate in Pennsylvania, two administrative law judges for the state Public Utility Commission said in a decision released Thursday.
The full PUC will decide, likely in November, whether to accept, deny, or modify the judges' recommendation.
Uber and Lyft, another ride-sharing company, are operating in Pittsburgh under temporary authority from the PUC, granted after the two companies had been operating in defiance of an earlier PUC ban.
Uber's defiance of the earlier cease-and-desist order was a factor in the judges' recommendation against permanent authority.
Uber's defiance "strongly suggests that the applicant is not committed to operating safely and legally," the judges wrote. "The applicant clearly has not informed itself of the regulatory requirements of the commonwealth, and also is not committed to playing its part in ensuring that the transportation service that it offers is safe and accommodates the public."
Both Uber and Lyft, San Francisco-based ride-share companies, connect people looking for a ride with private car owners looking for extra money. Their phone apps allow riders to summon a car, pay for the service, and get a receipt, all electronically.
Traditional taxi owners and operators, who are regulated by the PUC (except in Philadelphia, where they are regulated by the Parking Authority), have objected to ride-share operations as unfair, illegal competition.
Taylor Bennett, a spokesman for Uber, said Thursday that the judges' recommendation "completely reinforces the critical need for state legislation that embraces innovation and gives all Pennsylvanians more choice to safe rides.
"Current regulations have failed to catch up to a 21st-century economy," he said, "which is why we call on the state legislature to take matters into their own hands and bring ride-sharing to the commonwealth."
Several bills to create a separate class of service for "transportation-network companies" with separate regulations have been introduced in Harrisburg, but none has advanced to a vote.