ITHACA, NY – On Thursday, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick joined three other upstate mayors in endorsing the “NY Needs Uber” coalition, which aims to spread the ride-sharing service throughout the state.

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Currently, Uber is available in New York City, but regulations prevent Uber and similar ride-sharing services, such as Lyft, from operating upstate.

Along with Myrick, the mayors of Utica, Rome and Hornell also joined the coalition, according to a press release. Mayors from Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton and Syracuse had already signed on, along with a list of other legislators, disability advocates, business groups and clergy members. Reports indicate that Buffalo is now the largest city in the US that doesn’t have Uber.

Uber has been pushing hard during the last year to bring the service upstate, claiming they will create 13,000 new jobs doing so.

Municipalities like Ithaca and local taxi companies have been making preparations for the potential impacts the service would have.

Ithaca’s attempts to change regulations to provide a more level playing field between traditional taxi services and ride-sharing services were ultimately abandoned, with city officials deciding that it was futile to take any action until they could be sure that state-wide legislation wouldn’t simply override them.

An earlier version of the legislation failed to pass in Albany last year, but the next take is making its way through the state legislature.

According to John Kadar of Ithaca Dispatch, the new version of the legislation do not prevent municipalities from regulating services like Uber. If passed in their current form, cities like Ithaca could impose regulations like stricter background checks or placing a cap on how many the number of ride-sharing vehicles operating in the city.

Kadar noted that he was concerned that the legislation could be changed at the last minute over overridden later — which is something that happened in Madison, Wisconsin last year.

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(Featured photo by Jason Lawrence from Flickr.)

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.