Ahead of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Regional State of the State Address in Buffalo Monday, there is a new push to make ridesharing a priority this session. A diverse group turned out at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Thursday to voice their support.
State and local lawmakers, the business community, hotels, restaurants, arts and cultural organizations, and others are renewing their call to bring ridesharing to Buffalo and all of Upstate.
"It's just become a visitor amenity that is expected by travelers now," said Patrick Kaler, Visit Buffalo Niagara's President and CEO. Kaler says Albany's ban on Uber and Lyft is a black eye for the state's second largest city.
Bob Karmazyn, the General Manager of Embassy Suites in downtown Buffalo, says he hears about it nearly every day from frustrated guests.
"In this day and age, people want to go on their phone. They want to click a button and they want to be taken care of in three minutes," Karmazyn said.
Tod Kniazuk, head of the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York, says the area's wide variety of arts and culturals would draw more visitors if the state allowed ridesharing. Kniazuk says it's something he relies on when traveling.
"What's great about having Uber or Lyft as an option is there's no barrier. If I go to a show that doesn't start until 10 p.m, it's 2 a.m., I'm coming out of a club, no problem, I know how I'm getting home. Or if I go to a nice restaurant and maybe had a bottle of wine, it doesn't matter. I know how I'm getting home. I'm getting home safely, quickly and with a 100 percent expectation that I will be able to get where I'm going," Kniazuk said.
Among the lawmakers on board is Assemblyman Michael Kearns, who said many residents he talks to are hoping to land a job in the ridesharing industry.