Letter in support of ridesharing to Assemblyman Kevin Cahill
March 28, 2017
Honorable Kevin Cahill
New York State Assembly
Room 716, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Dear Assemblyman Cahill:
On behalf of our members, we want to thank you for taking a serious look at enabling legislation that would allow for the operation of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft throughout New York State. Not only would ridesharing provide jobs and spur economic development, it is supported by a vast majority of New Yorkers. Just this week, the Siena Research Institute released a poll that found 76 percent of New Yorkers want to see ridesharing approved.
The Business Council of New York State, Inc., the state’s leading business and industry trade association, supports legislation that would expand transportation options to include ridesharing in New York State beyond New York City, and urges the legislature to pass transportation network authority as part of the FY 2018 budget.
Legislation proposed in the Governor’s Executive Budget, and in the one house resolution put forth by the Senate, contains the necessary framework for establishing ridesharing in New York State.
The Executive and Senate propose comprehensive bills that address many of the concerns raised by stakeholders. Chief among the provisions is a requirement of comprehensive, yet affordable insurance coverage that establishes liability limits double the current requirements for upstate for hire vehicles (FHV) when they are on call but without passengers and increases limits 20-fold ($1 million) when transporting passengers. The inclusion of these provisions addresses the issues of reasonable levels of adequate coverage for drivers and riders, as well as liability insurance for operators, something both rideshare companies and insurers have diligently worked to address. Also, this legislation establishes a first-in-the-nation drivers’ workers compensation fund to ensure that the required insurance framework for drivers engaged in ridesharing is met.
There are other major provisions in the legislation that protect drivers and passengers, including: mandatory driver background check requirements which mirror the requirements that have been adopted in 39 other states; FOIL protections and rules governing the sharing of personal information; a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination; and a first-in-nation transportation network company (TNC) Disability Task Force to examine the potential for TNCs to make transportation more accessible for all.
The Executive and Senate proposals include a per-ride assessment that would provide revenue to the state and localities. This fee would fund infrastructure and transit projects to benefit New York State’s transportation system. To that end, the legislation calls for the creation of a statewide governing entity to regulate the rideshare system. We believe this option will help avoid confusion of having more than 3,400 localities developing their own oversight provisions and regulations.
Regrettably, the proposal put forth by the Assembly falls short in many areas when compared to the provisions contained in the Executive Budget and advanced by the Senate. While we are encouraged by the Assembly’s interest in pushing for ridesharing, we are dismayed by the following issues and worry they may keep upstate New York residents as the only Americans in the Continental United States unable to avail themselves of ridesharing services:
- Assembly legislation does not contain many of the privacy provisions and FOIL protections found in either the Executive or Senate versions.
- The Assembly version advocates local control which will guarantee a patchwork of additional inconsistent local regulations and red tape across the 3,453 cities, towns and villages in New York State. Such an inconsistent patchwork of regulations would cause confusion for TNCs, drivers, and law enforcement. The state has a role in setting the standards for transportation, and as such, we think one set of rules and regulations is the only practical option.
- The Assembly bill raises liability limits to the excessively expensive level of $1.5 million, far in excess of those set by the Executive and Senate.
Economic analyses have shown bringing ridesharing to upstate would create thousands of jobs, generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity, and fill in gaps in existing regional transportation networks. The time for ridesharing is now. We hope you and your Assembly colleagues follow the lead of the Executive and the Senate and listen to the voices of millions of your constituents who are clamoring for action.
Heather C. Briccetti, Esq.
President & CEO