Approval of ride-hailing in upstate New York draws mixed reactions

Apr 11, 2017

The new state budget includes provisions for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to expand into upstate New York as of this summer.

Prior to the long-debated action taken by state officials, ride-hailing services were only allowed in the New York City area.

Credit National Public Radio

The agreement includes uniform licensing standards, including mandatory background checks for drivers that advocates said will help ensure passenger safety. Business advocates have been pushing for the expansion for years. But some local residents interviewed by WBFO were not enthused.

“We really don’t need Uber,” said a Buffalo resident who identified herself as Monica. “Buffalo is small regardless, so you can get to point A and point B just by catching the bus."

But Ria Nagel, who said she lives in a rural community and commutes to Buffalo, believes ride-hailing will be beneficial to many residents.

"I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I think it’s awesome…especially for someone like myself. I live in the country, so to take a taxi, it’s outrageous. You would never consider it because it would cost you like $70 to go home.”

However, some have noted that ride-hailing is not always less expensive than traditional taxi service. Depending on the situation and location, ride-hailing costs can be similar or even more expensive than cabs.

Ride-hailing companies can begin expanding into upstate in early July. A statewide board will be established to review the impact of the industry. Local resident Allen Richards said he doesn’t think ride-hailing will “take away” commercial taxi companies.

“But it’s free enterprise, man," he said. "Transportation for everybody.”

Richards said he supports the state's plan to enact regulations for the ride-hailing industry, a sentiment that was echoed by public transit user Rodney Fenderson.

“As long as the drivers are vetted correctly and you’re sure you can get into a car with them, and it’s not," Federson said. "I don’t want say unsafe -- but I’ve been hearing a lot of things around the country about Uber drivers doing a lot of things that they shouldn’t.”

WBFO's Marwan Elbliety contributed to this report.