A Suffolk County Transit bus.

A Suffolk County Transit bus. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A good motive lies behind the proposed six-month moratorium in Suffolk County on digital ride-hailing operations. But legislation that would take Uber and Lyft off the road is the wrong vehicle to achieve the goal. County legislator Bridget Fleming hopes a moratorium would force the state to give the county a share of the 4 percent surcharge on services like Uber and Lyft to create a revenue stream for Suffolk’s chronically underfunded bus system. Fleming is right about the buses which are essential transportation for many residents.

But these app-based services have become a crucial transportation link since July after Albany gave its blessing. Uber says it has nearly 7,000 drivers in Suffolk who have given some 60,000 users hundreds of thousands of rides. Mothers Against Drunk Driving says alcohol-related crashes with fatalities in Suffolk fell from 35 in 2016 to 25 last year, a drop it attributed to ride-hailing, which was around for only six months.

It makes no sense to ban one valuable service to bolster another.

Fortunately, other ideas are emerging in Albany. One bill would redirect the 4 percent tax to local transit operations. A more likely solution under consideration during budget negotiations would increase the surcharge as part of a funding fix for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Suffolk bus. There are risks; too high a tax could discourage ride-hailing. And money coming to Suffolk should go into the strongest of lockboxes to make sure it’s not diverted for other uses.

There are better ways to get Suffolk residents the bus service they need than to take away the car service they use.