RIDE-SHARING BEGINS TODAY. OVER 2,000 DRIVERS WAITING YOUR SMARTPHONE CALL. DEMOCRATS WILL MONITOR SAFETY BY TASK FORCE. County to Lose $1 Million in Fine Revenue

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. From the Democratic Legislators Caucus AND Reporting by John Bailey. June 29, 2017:

After yesterday’s public hearing on ride-sharing, Democrats announced they will take the lead in coordinating discussion and action steps on the important continuing public safety & economic issue of allowing ride-sharing in Westchester County.

“While we have always been advocates for safe ride-sharing, we are excited to form a team that will help ensure a smooth roll-out in Westchester County,” said Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “This task force will closely observe public safety, economic, customer service, and traffic congestion concerns and make sure Westchester is utilizing best practices. We look forward to productive conversations with Uber & Lyft in the coming months.”

Editor’s Note: WPCNR asked a press spokesman for the Democratic caucus how many drivers Uber already has based in Westchester. Joseph Sgammato  told WPCNR Uber has some 2,000 drivers based in Yonkers alone.  He said did not have the figures for ride-sharing drivers presently based throughout the entire county  Sgammato said persons can only order a ride-sharing driver through the app (on their smart phone), giving their location through GPS. The company then sends back to their smarphone a picture of the car, its license-plate number and a picture of the driver.

Asked if Westchester drivers who are already authorized by ride-sharing companies, (ready now to pick up calls in the County) have indicated they would pay the $90 fee for fingerprinting through the Westchester County Taxi and Limousine Commission, Sgammato said Uber got a mixed reaction from drivers as to whether they would submit fingerprints through the commission, some drivers saying they would, others saying they felt the application process and records checking with Uber was thorough. Sgammato described the reaction from Uber drivers as a “mixed”.

Asked if the companies had provided statistics on the number of incidents involving Uber drivers in the last year in the area, Sgammato described the number of incidents as just “a handful.”

Asked if the Democrats were seeking to obtain some sort of revenue from the ride-sharing companies to replace the $1 Million the county has collected from ride-sharing companies caught operating previously unauthorized to operate in the county, Sgammato said the Democrats could not. That would have to be done by the state, Sgammato said.

Asked if the state was planning to amend the law to require ride-sharing companies to pay fees to operate, Sgammato said he was not aware of any movement to do so.

The news release continued, “We welcome the opportunity to continue a dialogue with members of the legislature. We thank Majority Leader Borgia and Legislator Ben Boykin for their efforts on this front,” added Josh Gold, New York Public Policy Director, Uber.

The task force will monitor the ride-share operations over the first six months and come up with financial solutions and safety recommendations for the Board of Legislators and County Executive to consider. Due to current New York State law, Westchester will stand to lose over $1M in revenue on June 29th regardless of what action was taken by the County. For Westchester to enact any of these recommendations, changes to state law must be made. Creating this task-force will increase the Board’s ability to raise the issues that may need adjustment.

“We applaud Majority Leader Borgia and Legislator Ben Boykin for their leadership on ridesharing and look forward to continuing to work with policymakers to ensure a positive experience for Lyft passengers and riders,” said Adrian Durbin, Director of Communications, Lyft.

“Since the State Legislature passed a law in April permitting ride-sharing in New York, I have been looking forward to the benefits that companies like Uber and Lyft bring to our communities.  Across the country, ride-sharing has proven to be a significant driver of economic opportunity, a safe and affordable transportation option, and a means of reducing traffic and pollution,” said Legislator Ben Boykin (D-White Plains), Chair of the Board’s Committee on Public Safety & Social Services. “While I welcome ride-share apps in our communities, it will be on us as legislators to stay vigilant and work with Uber, Lyft, and New York State for the best safety options and financial arrangements for ride-sharing in Westchester.”

The City of White Plains has not issued a statement though asked by WPCNR, as to how ride-sharing drivers are expected to operate in White Plains going forward. The County has decided to allow Uber and Lyft to operate in Westchester and accept ride calls from within the County and has declared they are legal to operate throughout the county.

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