2017-02-15 / News

Door Opened for Ride-Sharing Expansion to Upstate

By Abby Butler

DELAWARE COUNTY - New York State Senator Jim Seward announced that legislation to expand ride-sharing in upstate New York was passed in the senate. Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are active nationally and are now closer to operating throughout New York state. The legislation has been passed on to the Assembly for approval there.

The measure, according to Seward, includes important protection for both drivers and passengers by requiring criminal and driving history background checks, passenger notifications of driver information and trip charges and the adoption of non-discrimination and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies. “Ride-sharing will mean more jobs, safer roads and better transit options for our community and those like it across New York state,” Seward said. “The people in our communities should not be left at the curb and the passage of this bill delivers a strong message that ridesharing needs to happen now throughout the Empire State.”

According to Uber, the popular service now covers approximately 75 percent of the United States and they have been looking to expand to upstate New York for a while. Uber representative Alix Anfang explained that Uber is making the effort to expand their coverage area. “Uber’s goal is to provide reliable, affordable transportation options to everyone, everywhere,” Anfang said. “We are encouraged to see that the Senate and the Governor are listening to the voices of New Yorkers over those of special interests and making ridesharing a priority. It is now time for the Assembly to do the same and ensure that all Upstate communities - large and small - have what New York City and 47 other states have.”

The question of affordable and easily accessible transportation is especially important in Delaware County, where the rural nature of the area can make it very difficult to complete daily tasks without private transportation. Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci explained that the lack of readily accessible transportation is also a barrier to tourism efforts. “It is a huge barrier to our tourism program goal of expanding our visitor base and increasing visitor spending,” he said. “Many visitors arrive via bus, thinking that they can just move around as they would in more metropolitan areas. Obviously that is not the case. Easy ride-sharing options, like Lyft and Uber, are great solutions if there is available internet connectivity.”

The issues of internet access and drivers who are willing to work for either company are issues that have not yet been addressed. Ride-sharing drivers in other sparsely populated areas have complained that making a profit in such regions is difficult and often not worth their time.

However, Pucci pointed out that local transportation company, A&D Transportation, has developed an app that customers can use to secure a ride. “The advantage they offer is that riders know the driver is insured, the car is clean and there is a space to report problems,” Pucci added.

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