On the same day Uber was launching its UberX ride-share service in Philadelphia, the company was telling the state Public Utility Commission it had no intention of doing so.

How does Uber square its actions with its words?

By avoiding the question.

On Oct. 24, Uber filed a petition with the PUC for emergency temporary authority to operate in Philadelphia and four other Southeastern Pennsylvania counties. It cited an insurance crisis in the Philadelphia taxi industry since a major insurer of cabs, First Keystone Risk Retention Group of South Carolina, collapsed in insolvency and 478 cabs had been ordered to obtain new insurance immediately or halt service.

In its PUC filing, Uber said it "has no intention to launch service in the Counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania without authority from the Commission."

That night, Uber announced the launch of UberX service in Philadelphia, citing the insurance issue and saying it wanted to "ensure you have the convenient and affordable transportation options you deserve."

Asked about the apparent conflict, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in an e-mail:

"What we have in Philadelphia is a real transportation emergency. When a number of taxis still don't have adequate insurance, going from one unrated company to another, Philadelphians deserve the safe and reliable options they're demanding."

Pressed by a reporter about the apparent inconsistency, Bennett referred to his earlier statement.

The PUC has taken no action on Uber's application for emergency service in Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania, said commission spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher.

She said the commission did not have authority to regulate Uber in the city, where the Philadelphia Parking Authority is the regulator.

In the suburban counties, Kocher said that the commission is investigating reports that UberX drivers continue to operate without authority, and that such drivers face $1,000 fines and revocation of their vehicle registrations.

In Philadelphia, all but five of the 478 cabs that had been told to get new insurance have done so, said Martin O'Rourke, spokesman for the Parking Authority.

Vince Fenerty, executive director of the Parking Authority, called Uber's action "the height of hypocrisy" and said it "raises serious credibility issues about whether the public or any regulating agency, or any legislative body can believe anything Uber may say in the future."

215-854-4587

@nussbaumpaul