Sam Hodgson / The New York Times

April 11, 2017

Uber and Lyft to Expand to Upstate New York

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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.

  • Dan ’12

    Well done Svante. So true!

  • Amari

    Maybe if svante wasn’t so intoxicated with his frat brothers each time using a taxi he wouldn’t have missed his taxi- I’ve had very few bad experiences in cabs in Ithaca and will continue to use them. At least I know I won’t be getting kidnapped and raped or shot by one of these so called Ithacans who won’t b following same guidelines with police backgrounds as taxi companies do.

  • Laura

    Do you realize that local Ithaca cab drivers are not given drug tests – at least those with Collegetown Cab? Kind of an oxymoron when people might get a taxi because their driving ability is impaired only to PAY for a ride with another that is impaired.

  • Amari

    and with uber and lyft driving their own vehicles you think it would be safer? People tend to be more comfortable and stupid in their own vehicles ! I would drive my car after one drink but never a compny car ! driving a taxi is a profession not a hobby ! Those drivers at these local companies take their jobs seriously and respect the companies and the vehicles, uber and lyft drivers are out to make a couple bucks on their break or when their done studying or maybe even after their done drinking at the bar to pay off what they just spent ! Get real.

    • Laura

      Although that is probably true with many, I personally know that is not always the case. I am sure that there are both Uber drivers and local drivers that do this as their full time job and are caring professionals. I KNOW someone that is employed by the company that I would never want to ride with. We would all love to believe that they care, and many do, but you cannot be naive and think that they all do. I would never put down anyone out there working hard trying to make a honest wage–but I do put down the company that does not take the responsibility of drug testing their employees when they have the lives of others innocently sitting in the back seat. I was surprised when I learned that drug tests are not given on a regular basis. As for the police backgrounds, again, I also personally know someone that was previously a driver that has a criminal background. He did have that ‘police’ background check and also was one point away from having his license suspended and still hired. Both the previous and the current drivers that I am speaking of use drugs on a regular basis. They can’t pay their bills and move from place to place because they don’t pay rent and get evicted. Heck, the one was put in jail for abusing someone while driving the cab and the company bailed him out and paid the fines!

      With my comments, I simply am trying to show that you can have good an bad with any service that you use. There are always the good in life, along with the bad. Those who care, those that don’t. I am not trying to insult or cause an upset with anyone. Just stating what I have experienced and know to be true. Obviously every scenario or circumstance cannot be prevented but some steps can be put into place to help.

      • Wayne

        It is irresponsible for you to make these claims without providing evidence that they are true. The “I happen to know someone who…” is an unsubstantiated claim.. It doesn’t hold up in a court of law for a reason. Anyone reading it should disregard.

  • Amani

    I know people who work for both companies as well- and as I agree I would never ride with college town ever simple because the owner Paul and the manager Mike are both big time drug users and dealers on occasion. 95% of those drivers cabs don’t have new cars and can’t afford one either on a average salary and if uber and lyft come not only with their income be substantially lower but even if they wanted to work for uber or lyft could not because they’re personal vehicles would not meet the standards. So now we are taking jobs away from those that need it and work hard and mostly good people who serve the community ! Thank again Mr. Mayor.

  • Linda

    My daughter was once left in a cab in the parking lot of West Village for 15 or 20 minutes while her driver ran in “for just a minute” (late at night) – presumably to make a drug deal. She was too scared to get out and walk and just as scared to stay put. I don’t see how having competition from Uber or Lyft could make the current cab situation in Ithaca any worse!

    The best part about the ride sharing apps is the 5-star review system. If your driver is not excellent, you give them one star and pretty soon, they will not be driving, because nobody will ride with them. There is no such system for cabs – you never know who will be picking you up when you call a cab, and there is no clear way to evaluate the drivers.

    • Wayne Cox

      This never happened. I work for an Ithacan cab company. I know what goes on, I work the all night shifts, hear all the stories. This is over the top. Pure B.S. Never happened, never will. Don’t believe it. Linda is full of B.S.

      • Laura

        From the daughter- This very much did happen. It was a Green Hornet taxi van a few years ago. Not only did what was reported above happen- I was not dropped off at my destination. After my driver tried to turn the wrong way down a one-way street, I asked to be let out, paid, and walked the rest of the way.

  • Amari

    If you did your research or even read the article you would see that there is an app that Ithaca Dispatch uses! REDROUTE! You see where your driver is, who your driver is and their pics and numbers and any info any other app uses so do they. Download it maybe you would like it.

    • Anon

      I have been left in the cold waiting for redroute because it doesn’t solve the problem, which is that the local cab companies are disorganized, don’t follow rules (I’ve had them pick up passengers without my permission many times, including when I told them I didn’t want them to), and sometimes they never ever even show up. As an avid user of Uber elsewhere, I welcome another option than being stuck in the cold for an old car, often with drivers who are smoking or once I even had one who was clearly high and drove down the middle of a two lane road 50 mph above the speed limit.

  • Sibyl App

    Sibyl is another such company that is striving to connect cabs, buses, and more in one app so that people can travel much easier!
    So watch out, Red Route!
    Please follow our growth and progress as we bring you the future of transportation @sibylapp.
    We will be both Android and iOS compatible very soon.

    Cheers.

  • I have been driving for Uber & Lyft in Seattle since 2015. It allowed me to be a stay home dad during the week & drive during weekends. Drivers get deactivated with no hesitation by the TNCs when they are rude or impolite. if you want to be the first drivers when they launch sign up at driveuberbonus.com for a hundred dollar bonus.

  • CJ

    As an SF Uber driver who moved here I can tell you that the hoops NY state will make me jump through to become an Uber driver here are far too expensive for most unemployed people to jump through. I don’t see that they will be able to get drivers easily. In SF it’s a breeze, and you get 1000 dollar bonuses for signing people up underneath you . I bet it will be too much a bummer to drive in this town. Potholes, rude college kids, ruder Cornell professors…not sure I will want to do it here.

  • Marinez

    Uber is honestly very reliable. Although the drivers use their own car it’s still safe because Uber does background checks on all their employees. I’ve taken Uber drives on various occasions and never once had a problem. The app shows you exactly where they are and when they’ll arrive, you won’t have to worry about them picking someone else up along the way (unless you choose UberPool), they are always on time (so you’ll never be left out in the cold), and it shows you all the information about the driver before they even pull up. So in terms of safety, I would definitely side with Uber rather than our local cabs. And because anyone can apply to become a driver, it would keep the money in our community. This would not ever be a bad thing for Ithaca. We would actually get quality service for the amount we pay for; the prices would also be consistent and not read off from a paper.

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  • lubbz

    it is a simple matter of competition. Generally good for the consumer, sometimes not so good for the service provider. Ride share apps are the future but the cab companies have been slow to react. i hope these Red Route and Sibyl type apps do work and give people more options to get to where they need to be and not stranded after the bars close.

    the best argument i heard for the local cab companies has been that they have agreed to have a certain number of handicap accessible vans. i don’t know if this it true, but I’m sure Uber/Lyft hasn’t been held accountable for that…yet.