Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently passed state budget paves the way for Uber and Lyft to officially—and legally—bring its ride-sharing services to Long Island. But thanks to a provision in the budget, large suburban counties, like Nassau County, can choose to opt out and stick to old-school taxi companies. (Learn more about this possible expansion.)
Stalling Uber and Lyft’s expansion to the county would be a mistake. The services offer an alternative form of transportation for residents who are tired of increasingly dreadful commutes, overflowing train station parking lots and exorbitant parking fees at places like Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Ride-sharing services are a quick, reliable way to navigate the Island and give Long Islanders the chance to choose where their money goes—rather than grumble as they fork over frustrating fees to the town, county and villages. Not to mention that expanding transportation options could also decrease the number DWI incidents.
But an even bigger mistake than roadblocking the bill would be allowing it to pass without ensuring the safety of Long Islanders using the services. Taxi drivers are subject to rules and regulations aiming to keep passengers safe—including background checks, fingerprint scans and other measures. Ride-sharing companies should be held to the same standards and conversely, the safety of Uber and Lyft drivers is also something that needs to be ensured.
If real steps are taken to guarantee the safety of both riders and drivers, then there is no reason for the county to opt out.
Then again, it is hard to imagine the county signing up for this deal when it essentially means they will lose money in the form of those parking lot fees. If that cash flow goes away, you can bet that they will look to make up the difference in lost revenue in other ways. Can you say “ride-sharing tax?”
—By Steve Mosco