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Advocates Call on Assembly Speaker Heastie to Fix Statewide Uber Bill

2:33 PM EST on March 2, 2017

Ubers and yellows appear to be banished under the NYPD order. Photo: Max Pixel

The leaders of Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign are calling on the state Assembly to revise Governor Cuomo's bill to legalize Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNC's) outside New York City.

In letters to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Insurance Committee chair Kevin Cahill sent yesterday, the advocates warn that the bill could lead to illegal ride-hail traffic in the five boroughs with no way to assess the problem and rein it in, if necessary.

"If this bill is passed, there would be no feasible way to stop vehicles from Westchester or Nassau Counties from traveling into New York City, which would flood the streets with even more for-hire vehicles on top of the existing high number," write Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives and Veronica Vanterpool of Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

Current law allows TNCs to make trips that start or end in the city. Albany is considering legislation that would permit them to operate outside of NYC. One version, proposed by Governor Cuomo, is in the Assembly, and a similar proposal has already passed the Republican-controlled State Senate.

While the bills do not enable ride-hail drivers based outside NYC to operate in the city, they also lack mechanisms to prevent illegal pick-ups. Former TLC commissioner Matthew Daus has called the legislation "deregulation and self-regulation in disguise."

The letters to the Assembly leaders come on the heels of Bruce Schaller's groundbreaking report showing that the growth of ride-hail services has contributed to an increase in congestion in the city core. White and Vanterpool note that Schaller's analysis would have been impossible if not for TLC's data reporting requirements.

"Jurisdictions outside of NYC will not be able to complete similar studies, because [the legislation's] data sharing requirements are so weak as to be near-meaningless," they write.
tlc regs vs upstate tnc bill4

Uber has argued that the bill gives the state permission to strengthen and expand TNC regulations written into the legislation. But White and Vanterpool say it's "irresponsible" to pass a bill that doesn't specify "adequate safeguards" from the outset.

Streetsblog has contacted Heastie and Cahill for comments on the objections advocates have raised to the bill and has yet to receive a response.

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