Suffolk County Signs on to State Ridesharing Agreement, Paving Way for Uber & Lyft

Uber Hamptons
As of Friday, Uber’s Hamptons service stops at the East Hampton town line.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Tuesday that Suffolk County will officially participate in the statewide ride-sharing program that was recently signed into law as part of the New York State budget.

Mr. Bellone said the county’s participation is anticipated to have a positive economic impact and improve access to transportation for residents and visitors.

“The opportunity to provide access to ride-sharing for Suffolk County residents is a game-changer that will provide another added incentive for talented and young professionals to live and work in our region,” said Mr. Bellone at a press conference Tuesday at The Paramount theater in Huntington.  “This is about transforming suburbia on Long Island so that we can improve the health and vibrancy of our downtowns, create good-paying jobs, and improve pedestrian safety on our roads.”

The program will begin on June 29, just before the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The new state law, signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday, removes local control over ride-sharing apps by placing them under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

East Hampton Town had begun fining ride-sharing drivers for not having an office within the town’s boundaries in 2015, effectively blocking rideshare drivers, who are independent contractors, from operating there. Uber then closed down its service in East Hampton, though trips originating in New York City continued.

The state law included a provision allowing Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester counties to opt-out of the ride-sharing program, but Mr. Bellone decided not to take that route.

Suffolk County has 1.5 million residents, and the county government projects that ride-sharing can generate up to $120 million in additional spending by passengers in the local economy, including $57 million in earnings and an estimated $34 million in time saved.

The county executive was joined by elected officials, advocates against drunk driving, community leaders and representatives from ride-sharing providers Uber and Lyft.

“New Yorkers overwhelmingly support ride-sharing to insure safety on the road, improve local economies, and help bring needed income to hardworking families across the State,” said Lyft Director of Communications Adrian Durbin at Mr. Bellone’s press conference. “We look forward to bringing all the benefits of ride-sharing to Suffolk, Long Island and all across New York State, and thank County Executive Bellone for his leadership.”

“Long Island residents have been clamoring for affordable, reliable transportation options for years and thanks to the leadership of County Executive Bellone, Suffolk County residents will soon have access to ride-sharing services like Uber,” said Uber Director of Communications Alex Anfang. “We can’t wait to bring Uber to Suffolk County this summer, offering riders a new transportation option and drivers a flexible earning opportunity.”

 

New York State’s 2018 budget authorizes Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft, and created uniform licensing standards for them to operate across New York. Under this program, the State Department of Motor Vehicles will ensure compliance with laws, rules, and regulations as part of a TNC’s operational license.

Ride-sharing companies are required to maintain minimum insurance coverage levels of $1.25 million, which remains in effect from when a driver is traveling to pick up a passenger and until the drop-off is completed.

The state also established safety standards including mandatory background checks, monitoring for traffic safety, anti-discrimination protections, and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies.

As part of the new law, New York State mandated that workers’ compensation coverage be provided to rideshare drivers through the Black Car Fund and established a statewide board to review the impact of this newly authorized industry.

 

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

5 thoughts on “Suffolk County Signs on to State Ridesharing Agreement, Paving Way for Uber & Lyft

  • June 9, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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    I’m just curious if Uber is going to be hiring drivers and have them go thru back round checks, alcohol & drug testing, as do limousine companies and car services do. I mean shouldn’t we all know that we’re getting in a car that isn’t being driven my some sex offender or alcoholic that might be putting us and our children in danger? There have been so many cases in other states and Uber being sued extensively with all of this.
    This to me is disturbing I’m not against this, what I am against is that there is no accountability to ANYONE and I believe all drivers MUST go thru some form of back round check prior to hiring and meet the proper requirements

    Reply
    • June 9, 2017 at 2:47 pm
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      Hi, this is from the story: “The state also established safety standards including mandatory background checks, monitoring for traffic safety, anti-discrimination protections, and zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policies.”

      Does this answer your question, or were you referring to something different?

      Reply
  • June 11, 2017 at 9:42 am
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    So how do the car sharing services determine the rates that will be charged? I am especially interested in East Hampton and the rates in summer and year round.
    Presently there is no oversite to what local taxi services charge singles or groups.
    Any insights welcomed and appreciated.
    Peter

    Reply
    • June 12, 2017 at 8:57 am
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      That’s a very good question. In other areas, this has been a matter of supply and demand and Uber has come under fire in the past for surge pricing when the demand far exceeds supply. It’s a question we’ll be asking throughout this summer as this gets underway.

      Reply
  • June 22, 2017 at 9:01 pm
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    I was disturbed to read in The Guardian about the plight of Uber drivers. In approving ride-sharing with Uber and Lyfft are we bringing a third world economy to the east end?

    excerpt: “To some labor activists, the major ethical failing that should be inspiring bold promises of change at Uber is not so much the treatment of its well-paid tech workers, but the plight of its impoverished drivers, who are earning low and unstable wages in a job without security or benefits, or struggling to pay off loans for their Uber cars – debts that some have equated to dodgy subprime mortgages.

    Classified as contractors, the drivers have little recourse to deal with a litany of workplace challenges and hazards, including wage cuts by the company, harassment and sexual assault by passengers and a rating system that some say is plagued by racial biases. It is well-known that Uber has done battle with labor organising efforts and traditional taxi regulations in markets across the world.
    What is only now starting to become more apparent, however, is how Uber’s aggressive global expansion and alleged neglect of its workforce has left at least some of these workers with no option but to live in parking lots and on street corners. Including in LA, one of Uber’s most successful cities, and the place where Kalanick was born.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/17/uber-drivers-homeless-assault-travis-kalanick

    Reply

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