Uber has been attempting to expand services from New York City to Upstate for quite some time now, having met with potential drivers last December.
Although the New York State Senate approved a bill on June 17th that would allow Uber and competitor Lyft to operate in the Albany area and beyond, the Assembly is not expected to pass the same legislation.
The Senate voted 44 to 17 to approve Senator James Seward’s bill, but the matter has stalled in the Assembly.
“I’m extraordinarily disappointed ride-sharing legislation was not passed,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan told the Albany Business Review. “I think that’s a significant barrier to economic development in Upstate.”
Right now, New York City is the only area in the state that legally allows the cell phone app-based transportation.
The Assembly has a bill pending that allows Uber and Lyft to operate Upstate, but only with much higher auto insurance coverage for the drivers; Uber and Lyft have indicated the costs would be too high to allow them to expand reach Upstate.
“There’s a great deal of community demand for these services,” Sen. Seward told Syracuse.com. “Many mayors, county executives, and local officials are clamoring for this. . .option to be brought to their communities.”
Vic Christopher, owner of several Troy businesses, agrees: “The bottom line really for me is you’ve got a lot of people working hard to improve New York at the business level and it’s unfortunate that we don’t have cooperation from our elected officials,” he told the Albany Business Review.
Christopher has participated in press conferences and spoken with officials about the issue. He believes adding Uber services Upstate would be a significant economic boost for the area, particularly for local business owners such as himself.
In addition to the added competition for taxis and other transportation companies, opponents of the bill are concerned about a lack of access to Uber for people with disabilities, no requirement of fingerprinting drivers, no requirement of worker’s compensation insurance, and the overall safety of passengers; some Uber drivers have been accused of committing assaults against passengers in NYC and other states.
According to Sen. Seward, the bill does allow communities to enforce any regulations they choose on transportation network companies.
What do you think about the delay – are the concerns about Uber valid? Would you use the service if it became available in Albany?