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Hannon: Boost bus service by adding 50-cent-fee on Uber, Lyft rides

ALBANY -- Looking to boost bus service, a state senator has proposed that ride-sharing services – such as Lyft and Uber – be permitted to operate in Nassau County if they collect a 50-cent-per-ride fee that would go to a dedicated NICE bus fund.

Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) said he supports ride-sharing, “however, it should not happen at the expense of existing public transit.” He introduced a bill Tuesday requiring the dedicated fee – but its chances are uncertain given that the state legislative session is set to end next week. Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) said he would sponsor the bill in the Assembly.

Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state legislators approved a law that would allow ride-sharing companies to operate anywhere in the state (previously, they were limited to New York City). But the measure included a provision to allow Nassau and Suffolk counties specifically to opt out if they choose. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone already has said he’d allow ride-sharing, which has shifted the focus of proponents and opponents (primarily taxi companies) to Nassau.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, and the GOP-controlled county legislature have said they are still studying the issue.

Hannon said the fee would help preserve bus service in the wake of “perpetual” funding issues – earlier this year, Nassau’s financial control board approved a funding plan that eliminated 7 bus routes and reduced service in 4 others.

“The bus is literally the life line for service workers in Nassau County,” Hannon said.

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