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.