Upstate ride-hailing moves closer to July 1 launch

May 18, 2017

Buffalo, Upstate New York and Long Island are closer to welcoming ride-hailing on July 1. A bill accelerating the legal start date for services including Uber and Lyft passed the State Senate on Wednesday.

The legalization of ride-hailing services in state municipalities outside New York City was approved as part of New York State's 2017-18 budget. By state law, the start date is 90 days after passage of the spending plan. But the budget was approved beyond the April 1 deadline, meaning ride-hailing would not be available for Independence Day revelers.

State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer speaks during a news conference earlier this month, when he introduced a bill to allow ride-hailing to begin on July 1, making services such as Uber and Lyft available in time for the Independence Day holiday.
Credit WBFO file photo

"One of the things we know about our July 4 celebration is that there's a lot of alcohol and, unfortunately, a lot of people get into their cars afterwards," said State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, who introduced the bill and gained co-sponsorship by 18 colleagues. 

"This will save lives because people will be able to take advantage of it and not get into the car when they shouldn't."

The Assembly's bill, which is sponsored by a Poughkeepsie-area lawmaker, is expected to pass easily. A vote in that house is expected early next week. 

It would then go to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature. Last month, while visiting Buffalo to celebrate passage of the state budget, he arrived at his event in a symbolic Uber ride. 

"I would fully expect that the governor will give his stamp of approval, sign the bill and hopefully come back and take a real Uber ride once we get it up and running and once we have everything in place," Ranzenhofer said.