Uber and Lyft in conjunction with state and local authorities are pressuring New York State lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo to expand ride-sharing services in upstate New York. Police Chief David Zack of upstate Cheektowaga, wrote a letter to Governor Cuomo expressing the need for ride-sharing in order to cut down on drinking and driving, car crash fatalities and injuries.
According to Mr. Zack, “Upstate New York accounts for 51 percent of licensed drivers, but 65 percent of alcohol and drug impaired arrests and 59 percent of all fatal and personal injury crashes.”
New York City has lower percentages because it offers a larger assortment of mass transit alternatives compared to the rest of the state. According to Mr. Zack, this is a public safety issue which legislators have the power to formulate a solution to by allowing ride sharing services in upstate New York.
Initially Governor Cuomo was going to set statewide regulations for ride-sharing services as well as implement changes to insurance law, which would then allow Uber and Lyft to expand to upstate New York. However, that did not happen because the Senate and Assembly could not come to an agreement on the matter.
Some lawmakers wanted to require more comprehensive insurance coverage in order for ride-sharing services to operate freely throughout the state as opposed to only in certain major cities.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Chairman of the New York Assembly Committee of Insurance, is a key player in the ongoing debate. According to recordonline.com, Mr. Cahill proposed to increase the minimum insurance coverage to “$100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident for on-duty drivers without passengers and $1.5 million for a vehicle with a passenger.”
Senator James Seward of Ulster County proposed, “Death-and-injury coverage of at least $50,000 per person and $100,000 per incident when drivers are on duty but have no passengers, and $1 million in coverage when passengers are in the vehicle.”
Some insurance trade groups have opposed Mr. Cahill's bill. The American Transit Insurance Company said, "The requirements set forth are too high to effectively offer coverage."
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