Tournament-themed Uber ad decries lack of ride-hailing in Buffalo

Mar 15, 2017

A new Uber ad specifically calls attention to Buffalo's lack of ride-hailing services for this week's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

The 30-second ad, which will air both on TV and on digital platforms, points out Buffalo is the biggest U.S. city without ride-hailing.

"If you're in Buffalo for the NCAA Tournament, the biggest surprise isn't going to be a 16-seed knocking off a 1[-seed]. It's finding out you can't use Uber to get to the game. Or Uber to grab some wings to celebrate your team's win. Or use Uber to get anywhere," the ad begins.

Legislation allowing ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in upstate New York needs approval by the state legislature, where it has been stalled for years. Currently, the services are only allowed in New York City.

The ad, which uses the hashtag #UberMadness, was paid for by Uber Technologies Inc. The campaign encourages people who want to ride-hailing in Buffalo to lobby state lawmakers.

"Let's tell Albany, the ball's in their court," it says.

Local tourism promoters have said ride-hailing is an amenity visitors now expect whenever they travel.  Others have expressed concerns over legal, ethical and security questions surrounding the company.

“Let’s stop speculating about how Uber will fare in the state budget and start asking why it’s taking so long for New York officials to investigate the Greyball program, which Uber used for years to undermine law enforcement and operate illegally,” said John Tomassi, president of the Upstate Transportation Association that represents the taxi industry, in a statement.

The UTA has asked New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the Uber-Greyball connection as the New York Times reported has been the case in Boston, Las Vegas and in other countries.