ALBANY — The fierce lobbying battle in Albany that led to expansion of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft statewide has now moved to Long Island and Westchester County, where taxi interests hope to persuade suburban counties to opt out of the app-based transportation.
Although authorization to expand ride-sharing services in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester was granted in the state budget passed earlier this month, a provision added during closed-door negotiations allows large suburban counties to opt out.
The Committee for Taxi Safety sent letters dated Monday to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone to enact tougher local standards on ride-sharing companies to improve safety to passengers that are required under the state law, according to copies of the letters provided to Newsday.
“The discussion over ride-sharing regulation did not end with approval of the state budget — that discussion has really just begun,” said the group’s spokesman, Sam Spokony. “Long Island officials must help ensure safe ride-sharing throughout the New York metro area by making Uber and Lyft play by the same rules and provide the same passenger protections as taxis already do. We’re committed to working with stakeholders across Long Island and Westchester to create a fair regulatory playing field and keep passengers safe.”
The letters state in part that “Taxi drivers are subject to rules and regulations designed to ensure the safety of passengers, including background checks and fingerprint scans. It is imperative that ride-sharing companies are held to the same standards.”
It is uncertain how much, if at all, counties could require more safeguards than are in the state measure.
There was no immediate comment from the county executives on whether they are considering opting out of ride sharing.
The Siena College Polling Institute on Monday found 74 percent of suburban voters supported ride sharing compared to just 15 percent who were opposed. The poll questioned 714 voters between April 17 and 20 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
“As poll after poll shows, the overwhelming majority of suburban New Yorkers want ride-sharing services across the state,” said Danielle Fison, spokeswoman for Uber. “Uber is committed to making this a reality.”