Uber Lyft Negotiations began 3 days before Ride Sharing Was Scheduled to Begin: Boykin

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WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER From County Legislator Benjamin Boykin. June 28, 2017:

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, as County spokesperson, Gerald McKinstry told WPCNR, the Westchestery County compromise with Uber and Lyft creating a voluntary fingerprinting procedure to screen Uber and Lyft drivers, old and new applicants to come, the compromise talks began 3 days before, according to County Legislator Benjamin Boykin.

County Executive Robert Astorino announced the agreement with Uber and Lyft yesterday afternoon (see previous story below) in a news conference announced at 11:30 A.M., for 2:30 P.M. the event’s telecast was not even announced on the county website as of 2 PM. The news conference was televised on Facebook, but that was not displayed on the county website either as of 2 PM.

The inception of talks coincided (by WPCNR’s analysis) with the strong broadcast and local media advertising by Uber on LoHud and News12 and WVOX backed by a telephone robo call blitz and an encouraged call-in campaign to the County Executive by the public to tell the County Executive to approve Uber.. 

County Legislator Benjamin Boykin today confirmed the last minute nature of the compromise Fingerprinting in this statement emailed throughout district 5  this morning:

The E-Mail Statement from Legislator Boykin:

“Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, will begin operating legally in Westchester County on Thursday, June 29.

The Board of Legislators did not vote this morning to opt-out of ride-sharing.

As Chair of the Public Safety and Social Services Committee (PSSS), I welcome safe ride-sharing to Westchester County. The last minute “deal” negotiated between the Astorino Administration and Uber and Lyft provides for voluntary fingerprinting for the drivers.

I have repeatedly asked the Administration to come to the PSSS Committee to have an open discussion on how to best bring ride-sharing to Westchester.

The first such meeting with all stakeholders (Administration, Board of Legislators, Uber, Lyft, Taxi and Limousine Representative and the traveling public) took place on Monday, June 26, just three days before the start date for ride-sharing.

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.

Not only will consumers benefit from ride-sharing services, but Uber and Lyft have thousands of potential drivers interested in signing up. Ride-sharing companies provide a flexible and innovative way to provide jobs for people across all communities, including students and retirees. The benefits to ride-sharing far outweigh the potential downside.

Under the New York State law that regulates ride-sharing companies (outside of New York City which regulates ride-sharing under its Taxi and Limousine Commission):

  • 4% of each ride will go to NY State without any revenue sharing with counties or local municipalities
  • Counties and local municipalities are prohibited from regulating ride-sharing companies
  • Any changes to the regulations for ride-sharing companies must be done by NY State law
  • Fingerprinting is not required under the NY State law
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the regulating agency for ride-sharing companies
  • A county or municipality (with a population greater than 100,000 people) can opt out of ride-sharing at any time through a local law/ordinance.  Likewise, opt back in can happen at any time

I want to thank each of you for your emails, phone calls and meetings to provide your comments on this very important transportation option for Westchester County.

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.”

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