Uber, Cabs Fight Over Upstate New York Market

By | June 2, 2016

A fight over Uber’s plans to expand throughout New York State is escalating as lawmakers enter the final weeks of their 2016 legislative session.

The app-based ride-hailing service wants state regulations that would allow it to operate in cities including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. The current proposal pending before lawmakers would create insurance rules for companies like Uber, a necessary step, but would leave it to local governments to set specific regulations before Uber could operate within their borders.

That’s far less than the statewide authorization that Uber had initially hoped for, but it still represents a significant threat to the taxi industry, which is fighting to prevent Uber’s expansion outside the New York City area.

San Francisco-based Uber released a new upstate radio advertisement Tuesday urging people to contact their lawmakers to support the bill. While it’s expected to get broad support in the Senate, dominated by suburban and rural Republicans, it faces challenges with the Assembly’s Democratic majority, which has concerns about Uber’s labor policies and the effect of an expansion on taxi cabs.

“We are glad that the legislature is discussing ways to make ridesharing a reality,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said. “We look forward to working with the Assembly to bring economic opportunities and better transportation options to all New Yorkers.”

A group of taxi cab owners is urging lawmakers to require Uber to fingerprint drivers and make cars accessible to disabled passengers before signing off on any expansion. David Beier, president of the Committee for Taxi Safety, said he doubts Uber’s promise to create jobs upstate.

“They’re not creating jobs, they’re destroying an industry,” Beier said.

Lawmakers plan to adjourn their session June 16.

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