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Kevin Cahill

The Assembly’s Uber Bill Is Better Than Cuomo’s

4:39 PM EDT on March 14, 2017

The Assembly has released its version of legislation to legalize Uber and other "transportation network companies" (TNC's) outside of New York City, and it includes some critical data transparency measures absent from similar bills put forward by Governor Cuomo and the State Senate.

Trip data from Uber, Lyft, and other companies has been critical to developing an understanding of how TNC's are affecting New York City's transportation system. Researcher Bruce Schaller used it to demonstrate that TNC's are absorbing most of the travel growth in the city and contributing to increased congestion.

But Cuomo's bill made no provision to open up that data statewide, only allowing the Department of Motor Vehicles to visually inspect "randomly chosen" samples of TNC trip data in person twice a year.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Kevin Cahill, who represents Kingston, would require TNC's to "upon request, furnish the [DMV] or a country, town, or village with records including the dates, times, and locations of passenger pick-ups and drop-offs, the most common pick-up and drop-off locations, and the average number of TNC vehicles on duty at a given time." So the DMV would have to affirmatively decide to acquire the data, even if the bill passes.

The Assembly bill also scraps provisions in the Cuomo bill to exempt TNC's from the state's freedom of information law.

Advocates have also warned that the governor's bill does not do enough to prevent drivers based in Westchester or Nassau from operating illegally in NYC. Cahill's bill says TNC's "shall use all available technology to prevent TNC drivers from accepting prearranged trips" in cities of one million or more people, a.k.a. New York City. In other cities, Uber has used a technology called "geofencing" to prevent pickups in areas where they're not allowed.

In the Assembly bill, local governments that already regulate taxis would also be able to apply the same rules to TNC's -- unlike in Cuomo's bill, which delegates all regulation to the state DMV. Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk counties had sent a letter to lawmakers requesting the power to regulate TNCs like they regulate other for-hire vehicles.

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