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Ride-Hailing Returns To Long Island And Upstate New York

The New York Times reports news that ride-hailing has returned to New York state and Long Island after a two-year battle by Lyft, Via, Uber and others to lift the ban on their carsharing services. Among the reasons for the ban were concerns about the type of insurance these companies carry for their drivers.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D) pushed the new law to put ride-hailing services under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Motor Vehicles instead of individual cities and towns.

“Extending ridesharing across New York is a matter of fairness that brings new transportation options and — with it — new economic opportunity and innovation,” Cuomo said in a statement on June 6.

A complementary new law tightens restrictions around who is eligible to become a driver. Anyone who wishes to drive for a ridesharing company in New York state or Long Island must pass a background check. No registered sex offenders will be considered.

Spokespeople for Lyft and Uber approved of the new regulations — Uber especially, as the company looks to turn over a new leaf following the resignation of founder Travis Kalanick as CEO last month. Uber has been fined repeatedly in some cities, and the exposure of the company’s culture of sexual harassment and discrimination finally drove Kalanick to relinquish the reins.

“We are focused on the next chapter,” said Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang. “We see this as an opportunity to up our game.”

Though Lyft has none of Uber’s baggage, the carsharing company is nevertheless pleased to see more regulations added to the books. When Lyft started five years ago, there weren’t many in place; the company was trying to win a game without any rules.

“Having regulations … ensures that everyone knows what the rules are, and it provides legitimacy to the industry,” said Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin.

Local cab service operators can see why consumers are happy, but for them, the new law is less of a victory bell and more of a death knell.

“A lot of people are going to lose their jobs,” said Alfonso Falsone, the owner of Queen City Taxi in Buffalo. “It’s good for the consumer, but our drivers are screwed.”

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