Uber NY relaunches campaign to expand in Upstate

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After failing to pass a law during the last legislative session, Uber is once again pushing to expand in Upstate New York.

People across the United States and the world have access to ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft. But in New York, they’re only available in the New York City area.

After a bill was defeated in June to expand in Upstate, Uber is pushing for change.

Vic Christopher is in the process of opening Donna’s Italian Restaurant, a new business just outside of downtown Troy. But he said a lack of transportation options will make it hard to attract some customers.

“It is difficult to travel in the Capital Region, and ridesharing will make it incredibly easy,” he said.

Christopher said legalizing ridesharing apps would make the difference by benefitting the economy, increasing jobs, preventing DWIs, and making traveling more affordable and accessible.

“We’ve been advocating for this at the business level for over three years with our local and state legislators, and we’ve really had no forward motion,” he said.

On Wednesday, Uber NY relaunched the #NYNeedsUber campaign to pass legislation to expand in Upstate during the 2017 session. In an email to workers, it said, “Albany dysfunction and New York City special interests stood in the way last year – but we’re determined to fight until people like you have access to affordable, reliable transportation options.”

“What we’re trying to bring is level competition,” Upstate Transportation Association Pres. John Tomassi said.

The Upstate Transportation Association is a group comprised of upstate taxi providers. Tomassi said they’re not against ridesharing, but they have a few concerns about the public’s safety.

“All taxi operators in Upstate New York – throughout New York State – require that background checks and fingerprinting of all drivers,” he explained.

Tomassi said Uber in New York City is currently conducting checks of drivers, but he said the company’s past proposal for Upstate didn’t include those rules.

“It’s not a big hurdle that the rest of the industry isn’t already doing,” he said.

As for Christopher, he’s just looking forward to the chance to attract new customers with ridesharing in the near future.

“We hope that this is the year that things finally move forward,” he said.

With the relaunch of its campaign, Uber NY is advocating for people to sign the petition. As of Wednesday night, more than 98,000 people signed it.

The next legislation session begins in early January.

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