Ride-share services provide more options, easier accessibility

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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Have you seen those pink mustaches on cars around Oakland? They, along with other methods are signs of a ride-share vehicle, and they are taking Pittsburgh and the nation by storm.

Lyft and Uber, two applications focused on revolutionizing the way people move around, have made waves in Pittsburgh. The firms, based in San Francisco, connect drivers to people in need of a ride similar to a taxi service, except it is done over their respective smartphone applications. One of the ways Lyft is spreading awareness is having the front grill of their drivers cars sport a pink mustache.

While the service has provided an innovative, competitive new option for people who need to get around, the implementation hasn’t been seamless. Current city regulations do not allow such services to exist without being licensed. What is more, taxi companies have met the applications with bitter resistance, urging that these ride-share drivers receive tickets for breaking the law.

These services should be legalized, however, and Pittsburgh officials should update transportation regulations rather than condemning such innovative services. It is entirely beneficial for many, especially students, to have access to a variety of transportation networks in a city that is currently searching for ways to enhance existing transportation networks. Having assortment when moving about the city increases consumer choice, and with increased competition, customers can find the best, most cost-effective choice.

Robert Powelson, chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the entity in charge of regulation for ride-share companies, supports efforts to update the outdated policies and adjust with a newer age of transport.

“We can’t keep being the stodgy, out-of-date PUC,” Powelson said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in regard to the way the commission handled the integration of the then-unique Megabus bus service in the area.

Both services, if permitted to stay in Pittsburgh, will provide students with a reliable alternative to using other Pittsburgh forms of transport, namely taxis, buses and campus transportation. These services enlist drivers who use their own cars — where both the drivers and their cars are held to strict guidelines and security checks — to exchange rides with customers entirely on a smartphone app. From the moment someone is picked up to when he or she is dropped off, no part of the transaction is done in person other than the physical ride. The rest — the agreed destination, price, payment and post-review process — is handled and administered by the application.

For students who hail from either Pittsburgh or elsewhere, traveling around the city can often be burdensome at hours when taxis and public transport are sporadic. Even while Pitt transport and shuttle services can resolve such issues, their limits are only so far around the city. Uber and Lyft fill the gap between these alternatives, ultimately helping students make safer decisions when moving around Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh has to join the growing list of cities that have adjusted regulations to make ride-share firms coexist with other public modes of transport. These applications are safe, convenient and enhance consumer choice. If Pittsburgh wants to advance its transport, Lyft and Uber can help move the city into the next era of transit.


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