Getting a ride back to campus on weekends — which often involves the stress of hailing a cab — may now be made easier with a few taps on a smartphone.
According to the FY 2018 state budget, which was approved on April 9, ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft will now operate across New York state.
Previously, ride-sharing companies were not allowed to operate outside of New York City since they required group-sharing insurance that was previously illegal in New York state. The new budget modifies the insurance law, allowing for the expansion of ride-sharing companies, and stipulates that a statewide board will be implemented to oversee how the ride-sharing industry impacts the state.
Numerous petitions emerged in support of bringing ride-sharing companies to the rest of New York state. Uber posted its own petition in December 2016, which garnered more than 100,000 signatures in support of the company’s expansion.
While this legislation may improve convenience for New York state residents, some Binghamton cab drivers are worried about what it means for them and their customers.
A local cab driver, who wished to remain anonymous due to his association to the subject, said that Uber will hurt his business and disadvantage Binghamton University students who won’t have the same pre-existing relationships with Uber drivers as they do with local Binghamton area cab drivers.
“We hate Uber; you don’t know who’s driving,” he said. “It will hurt our business and students because you don’t know who’s driving.”
However, not all drivers are concerned about ride-sharing companies coming to Binghamton. Ali Waad, the owner of A&B Taxi, said that he is not worried about companies like Uber because he is already in competition with other local cab companies.
“There’s competition with all companies,” Waad said. “If you have a good service, people will come to you.”
Many students said they are excited about the prospect of having services like Uber in the area.
Jessica Lamazor, an undeclared freshman, said she thinks ride-sharing companies will be beneficial for students but could hurt local cab drivers.
“I think it’s great for students,” Lamazor said. “It probably won’t work out so well for the cab drivers now unless they become Uber drivers, because Uber is definitely more convenient and potentially cheaper.”
Noelle Wong, a sophomore majoring in linguistics, said having these companies will be beneficial because it will lead to more accountability for drivers.
“As a student, I definitely think that I could benefit from it,” Wong said. “I remember one time a cab driver said they would come to pick me up but never came so I think that if Uber came, I could see where the cab was and be guaranteed it would come for me.”
According to Uber’s website, the company will be on the road in upstate New York as early as July 2017 and could potentially create 13,000 jobs.
Gabriel Mesidor, a senior majoring in economics, said he thinks ride-sharing companies provide a better option.
“I’ve used Uber in the past and I had pretty pleasant experiences,” Mesidor said. “For students in Binghamton in particular, I think Uber or Lyft might offer an improvement over the current taxi companies in place, especially if an Uber Downtown or to the Binghamton airport would cost less than a taxi.”