Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran urged officials on Tuesday to allow ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to expand to Nassau County and give residents another option for getting around town.
Curran highlighted the economic benefits to the county of additional affordable transportation options as well as the convenience they would provide to Nassau residents. Currently, any ride-sharing on Long Island must begin or end in New York City.
A statewide ride-sharing law takes effect June 29, and municipalities can choose to opt out before its implementation or at any time afterward. Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week expedited the process to have ride-sharing companies operating for the Fourth of July weekend across New York.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone embraced ride-sharing at a news conference last week, and if Nassau County opts out, ride-sharing would be readily available in New York City and Suffolk, but not Nassau.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has not announced a position on ride-sharing.
“I’ve always believed increasing affordable transportation is how we can successfully grow our economy, grow our tax base, and improve the quality of life in Nassau,” Curran said at a news conference at the Rockville Centre Long Island Rail Road station.
“By allowing ride-sharing, Nassau County will finally come into the 21st century with in-the-palm-of-your-hand access to a ride anywhere in the region — including to and from mass transit hubs. The bottom line is ride-sharing is good for our residents, it’s good for our businesses, and it’s good for our county’s long-term economic growth.”
While many officials and residents support ride-sharing, taxi companies and their supporters are concerned about the safety of passengers.
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles will oversee ride-sharing services outside New York City and will conduct background checks for drivers, but taxi supporters worry these checks won’t be as thorough and rigorous as those required for cab companies under county, town and village supervision.
Some ride-sharing drivers across the country have been accused of sexual assaults and kidnappings, and a loophole in the New York law allows the lowest tier sex offenders to become ride-sharing drivers seven years after a conviction or sentence. While drivers must clear the National Sex Offender website, it only lists tier two and three offenders. State Sen. Tom Croci (R-Islip) has proposed a law banning all formally convicted sex offenders from becoming drivers regardless of tier.
The state’s regulations will require an estimated fare be provided in the company’s phone app before the ride begins as well as providing a photo of the driver along with make, model, color and license plate number of the vehicle. Uber and Lyft also require the driver to prominently display the company’s logo on the passenger side of the car’s windshield.