Uber, eager for state legislation that legalizes its Philadelphia operations and will pass the full House, on Friday will begin running ads on broadcast and cable channels to encourage public interest in the ride-sharing issue.
"We are continuing to work with stakeholders to get an agreement, but bottom line, we want to make sure the public knows that the House needs to pass ride sharing this session," the company said in a statement. The advertisement shows a woman with a baby standing rideless on the Philadelphia side of City Avenue while a stream of people take Ubers from the road's Montgomery County side.
"If the state House in Harrisburg doesn't pass ride-sharing legislation, you'll be able to get an Uber on the Montgomery County side, but not the Philadelphia side," the ad's narrator states.
When asked whether the spot was suggesting Philadelphia would lose Uber service if legislation passes that doesn't address ride share's status in the city, Uber walked back the ad's statement.
"If the House does not pass ride sharing this session," a statement said, "or if taxi special interests are successful in carving Philadelphia out of the House bill, Philadelphians' access to Uber will not be protected in the same way it is for the rest of the state."
The April 27 deadline to propose a legal framework for ride sharing in Philadelphia has passed, but officials say they are still seeking a solution.
"Still working on it," said State Rep. Bob Godshall, head of the House Consumer Affairs Committee.
He noted that many of the major players, including Uber, Lyft, and officials from the city, Philadelphia Parking Authority, and Philadelphia International Airport, met in the mayor's office Thursday, and he was hopeful he would have a bill crafted next week, possibly by Wednesday. If legislation can't be completed by next week, the committee has indicated it would go forward with a bill that could exclude Philadelphia, leaving ride-share services in the city still in limbo.
The legislation is intended to be a more permanent replacement for a temporary certificate granted to Uber and Lyft by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which oversees transportation businesses in all of the state's counties except Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, the PPA has authority over transportation businesses, and as a result, ride sharing in Philadelphia is not protected by the PUC's authorization.