ALBANY — Some of Long Island’s biggest players are fighting behind the scenes on different sides of a proposal to expand ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft statewide, while the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo negotiate issues for a potential special session this month.
The Long Island Association business group that has worked closely with Cuomo on Tuesday made a formal pitch to extend ride-sharing services upstate and on Long Island, according to a letter obtained by Newsday. The letter to lawmakers was sent days after Cuomo announced his support for the proposal to expand ride-sharing services, which are already allowed in New York City.
“Ridesharing has the potential to offer residents a reliable and affordable transportation option around their communities,” wrote Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, in a letter to Cuomo and legislative leaders. “Ridesharing may improve the experience of commuters who drive to and from the Long Island Rail Road. With Uber available, train riders could have an additional option to help them commute without the expense of a second car or parking.”
Traditional taxi companies are fighting the proposal, which could be acted upon along with pay raises for legislators in a special session that could be scheduled within days.
“State lawmakers must reject this insulting and dangerous proposition, which would put millions of upstate riders at risk,” stated the Upstate Transportation Association of taxi companies.
State lobbying records show the Nassau & Suffolk Taxi Owners Association has hired the Park Strategies lobbying firm of Manhattan, which was founded by former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.
As lobbying by both sides intensified this week, Uber on Wednesday offered further enticement for upstate legislators by announcing it would begin negotiating partnerships with its drivers to provide transportation to games of the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Sabres, the NCAA basketball tournament and concerts.
Legislative leaders said that talks continue this week for a potential special session, but that they and Cuomo are trying to negotiate deals on issues such as ride-sharing before returning to Albany to vote on legislative pay raises.
Legislators may get raises in their base pay to about $99,000 a year for the part-time jobs that now carry a base pay of $79,500 before leadership stipends and per-diem payments are received for expenses. It would be the first raise for legislators since 1999.