Starting this July, Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies will be making their way into the rolling hills of upstate New York.
On April 7, Governor Cuomo approved the 2018 state budget, which “authorizes Transportation NetWork Companies, such as Lyft and Uber, to operate across New York and creates uniform licensing standards.” These companies will be under the oversight of the Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure compliance with all laws.
While local governments will be able to block the expansion of TNCs, Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 expressed his strong support on his Facebook page on April 8.
The TNCs “will be a great benefit to consumers, our restaurants, our wineries, all while reducing drunk driving,” Myrick said.
In response to a comment that this development will negatively impact the taxi services, Myrick challenged the quality of the local companies.
“Have our local companies earned our loyalty?” Myrick said in a comment. “I’ve been stranded, left waiting forever, overcharged, had my driver stop and pick up several other people on my trip without my permission. And I hear dozens of stories like this from Ithacans every year.”
Concerning the revenue, Myrick added, “the people who live in Ithaca are the ones who get to make money driving for Lyft — so we can still keep the money in our community.”
Meanwhile, Brian Schiff ’18 — co-founder of RedRoute, a “transportation technology company” that provides a ride-hailing app as one of its services — added that the expansion of TNCs into upstate New York is “something that we’ve known could happen for a long time.”
Founded in March 2016, RedRoute is currently working with taxi companies, including Ithaca Dispatch, in Ithaca, Binghamton and Oneonta. Although services like Uber and Lyft will be competition in the industry, Schiff believes that “to the extent that Uber is a motivator,” this competition will be beneficial for the taxi companies.
The companies that have partnered with RedRoute have been “incredibly proactive” and will “continue to improve their own business and strive to be the best companies that they can be,” Schiff explained.
The taxi companies are “trying to improve everything from top to bottom,” from their business profitability to the working experience for their drivers, Schiff added.
The TNCs “should debut in 90 days” in upstate New York as of April 8, according to Myrick.