As ride-hailing prepares to make its local debut Thursday, Erie County’s top prosecutor said he’s confident the service will help reduce drunken driving.
“We want to see a decrease in the number of DWIs and, more importantly, we want to save lives,” John Flynn told reporters Wednesday. “That’s what we’re here for. That’s what our jobs are for. And hopefully, ride-sharing here in Buffalo and Erie County will do just that.”
Flynn was joined by Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and East Aurora Police Chief Shane Krieger during a news conference on the steps of Old County Hall in downtown Buffalo. The law enforcers said they agreed that ride-hailing could provide an alternative to people who have been drinking and lack cash to pay for a taxi ride home. People who use ride-hailing apps see their credit cards automatically billed for rides.
Law enforcers said ride-hailing could help curb a growing number of DWI felonies in Erie County, which have been on the rise since 2013. Last year, there were nearly 600 arrests for such incidents in Erie County.
Some ride-hailing advocates believe the new services could lure more people from suburban communities to downtown restaurants, bars and other businesses.
Meanwhile, Mayor Byron Brown said there could be other economic benefits.
“Ride-sharing provides a flexible way, an easy way for people to use their vehicles to earn extra income,” the mayor said. “And we have seen with the example in New York City that people are earning significant incomes.”