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

Photo: Shuggy/Flickr
Photo: Shuggy/Flickr

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.

  • Bobbi Koval

    Bottom line, can we please have Uber in Rochester?

  • Anne Omynous

    Why? Their vehicles are dirty and dangerous, meanwhile their drivers are underpaid and desperate.

  • Christina

    Upstate doesn’t need Uber they have drivers already, the only difference is you have to call them to pick you up. If you want the convenience of an app use the taxi app E-HAIL ( same convenience but trusted taxis.

  • BubbaJoe123

    If upstate doesn’t need Uber, then there’s no reason to prohibit it, since people will just not use it.

  • BubbaJoe123

    “Their vehicles are dirty and dangerous, meanwhile their drivers are underpaid and desperate.”

    This describes the bulk of my experiences in taxis outside of NYC, and a lot within NYC.

  • Bobbi Koval

    Disagreeing here! From way upstate and west. We want and need better options in Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse. For a variety of reasons we need the option.

  • Jemilah Magnusson

    So why is Uber better?

  • BubbaJoe123

    Because, in my experience, the vehicles are better and the service is better. Also, since you can rate the driver, there’s a way to have some level of feedback on the quality of your trip.


Ubers and yellows — always competing. Photo: Max Pixel

Advocates Call on Carl Heastie to Fix Statewide Uber Bill

In letters to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Insurance Committee chair Kevin Cahill, leaders of Transportation Alternatives and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign warn that Governor Cuomo's Uber 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.