Upstate Ridesharing Good For Economy, Environment, Public Safety

By: Sen. James Seward

The New York State Senate recently passed legislation I authored that would give ride-sharing the green light in upstate. The comprehensive bill (S.4159) provides the framework for ride-sharing companies to expand operations outside of New York City creating new jobs and offering safe, reliable transportation options.

You may have head of Uber or Lyft or another transportation network company (TNC) but if you live in the 51st Senate District, or anywhere outside of New York City, you are unable to use these convenient ride-hailing phone apps. My bill would remedy that.

I first began discussions regarding TNCs in 2014, sponsored legislation in 2015 to bring TNCs to upstate New York, and convened a senate roundtable on ride-sharing in November 2015 to hear from TNCs, insurance companies, local municipal officials, small business owners, disability advocates, and taxi and livery industry representatives. Last year, the senate passed a bill I sponsored that focused on the insurance aspects only. Since then, I have continued to fine tune this legislation leading to the new bill that was just approved by the senate.

The measure includes important protections for both drivers and consumers as part of the regulatory framework. It requires 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.

The bill creates a new TNC Accessibility Task Force to identify and address barriers to and opportunities for greater access for New Yorkers of all abilities, and includes TNC drivers in workers’ compensation insurance offered through the existing Black Car Fund, among other provisions.

I am pleased that the governor is also a proponent of ride-sharing. My legislation is similar to a proposal included in the governor’s executive budget proposal. One major difference – taxes.

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