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Uber Makes Push to Expand Statewide in New York

Want to hail an Uber from your smartphone in Rochester? The first call you’ll have to make is to your local legislator.

Despite a recent poll from the ridesharing company showing that 80% of New Yorkers would support an expansion of Uber services outside of New York City, current state law requires that any taxi-like services must negotiate with each individual municipality in which they want to operate.

That law will be up for amendment once the state Congress resumes session in January 2017. For the past few months, Uber has bargained for a statewide pass to begin operations anywhere in Upstate or Long Island, but not without promising a few changes to its current programming.

Under the proposed revisions, all Uber drivers will be required to undergo third-party background checks. Vehicles used for Uber will also need to be insured for up to $1 million in damages. Albany Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy has also argued for a provision to better serve disabled Uber passengers who might require special vehicles or assistance.

“You have to make sure they don’t get left behind,” Fahy said. “There are issues.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that if New York residents want to see Uber in their communities, they should call their local lawmakers and tell them so. But Uber has already started calling the residents themselves.

In a new poll from the company’s New York division, 80% of respondents living outside of New York City said ridesharing programs like Uber could have a positive impact on people who are in need of more transportation options, and 91% believed that ridesharing programs can be beneficial for areas with limited or no public transport.

By 2018, it’s expected that there will be 5% more cars on roads in the U.S. than there are today — about 260 million. Proponents of rideshares say that they can help discourage drunk driving, encourage carpooling, and reduce overall congestion and pollution.

“The voices in support of ridesharing should be heard loud and clear across every region of the state,” said Josh Mohrer, General Manager of Uber NY in a press release. “It is also clear that New Yorkers are tired of their support being drowned out by New York City special interests and are demanding statewide regulations to allow ridesharing. Now is the time for Albany to listen and finally give New York communities the affordable and reliable transit options they need and want.”

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