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What the Philly UberX and Lyft shutdown means for riders and drivers

Update: The Philly ban on UberX and Lyft is over… for now.

Clarification appended 

A Philadelphia judge ordered UberX and Lyft to stop operating in the city Thursday, but that cease and desist means different things for drivers and riders.

The order, which came down as part of a lawsuit filed in July, stipulates UberX and Lyft must cease operations in Philadelphia as they have not been legalized by state law. The only hope for ridesharing is the passage of legalization bill in the state House, which doesn’t reconvene until Oct. 17.

Spokespeople for both Uber and Lyft said their respective companies are appealing the decision and will keep their services available in spite of the judge’s order.

Here’s what the order means for consumers and drivers:

What it means for customers

The long and the short of it is: If you hail an UberX or a Lyft — both of which were still available to customers as of 3 p.m. Thursday — you’re not going to be fined or arrested even though the service is now definitely illegal in the city of Philadelphia.

When the Philadelphia Parking Authority authorized a sting operation in 2014 to bust UberX drivers in Philadelphia, riders in those cars were not subject to fines or arrest.

What it could mean for customers is higher prices and longer wait times. If drivers become spooked by the news of today’s shutdown, less drivers could be on the roads, meaning surge prices could soar and wait times would increase.

What it means for drivers

If the PPA pulls over an Uber or Lyft driver, as it did dozens of times during the first few months UberX and Lyft started operating in Philadelphia, it impounds the car and levies a $1,000 fine on the driver and a $1,000 fine on the company. Uber has always said it would cover the $1,000 fine levied on the driver.

Drivers said as of 3 p.m. Thursday, they had not been contacted by Uber regarding the cease and desist order.

The judge presiding over the case also stated the ride-sharing companies could be held in contempt of court for failing to comply with the orders.

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