Weekly Feature

2017-04-20 / Local News

Officials outline opportunities as WNY readies for ride-sharing

Sen. Tim Kennedy, D-Cheektowaga, and Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, D-Cheektowaga, joined dozens of elected and community leaders last week to celebrate the countdown to ride-sharing in Western New York and discuss job opportunities residents may be able to take advantage of in the coming months.

With the New York State Legislature voting to legalize ride-sharing in upstate as part of the 2017-18 budget, the state Department of Motor Vehicles now has 30 days to craft regulations that will oversee the ride-sharing industry, according to a recent press release.

The release said services should be up and running in 90 days, and while residents may have to wait until the summer to use services such as Uber and Lyft, they do not have to wait to apply to become a driver.

“Day after day, I heard from constituents asking when Uber and Lyft would be coming to our city, and after fighting for years to bring ride-sharing to Buffalo and upstate New York, I’m proud to say we finally have the green light,” Kennedy said in the release.

“While we wait for the DMV to craft service regulations, Western New Yorkers don’t have to wait to take advantage of the potential that ride-sharing will bring to our region,” he added. “Job opportunities are already being created, and I strongly encourage those looking to become a driver to start exploring the application requirements now.”

Wallace echoed Kennedy’s comments, touting the services’ potential positive impact on the community on multiple levels.

“I am proud that our recent efforts to make ride-sharing a reality in Western New York were successful, while implementing important goals regarding passenger and driver safety, as well as the positive economic impact this will have for local businesses,” she said in the release.”

Requirements for those interested in becoming drivers include:

• Being at least 19 years old and having a valid license and insurance coverage.

• Owning, leasing or otherwise having authorization of a car.

• Not appearing on the national sex-offender registry or not having committed certain crimes within the last seven years.

Additionally, ride-sharing companies will be required to check the driving history of potential drivers before hiring and will be required to have a zero-tolerance policy for drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on the job.

It is important to note that ride-sharing companies also have their own requirements that potential applicants must meet; for example, Uber and Lyft require that drivers be at least 21 years old.

In February, several local officials hosted a ride-sharing forum at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, during which more than 200 people shared their feelings on the issue, with an overwhelming number expressing interest in having ride-sharing in Buffalo in one form or another, the release stated.

For more information on becoming a driver, visit www.lyft.com/drive-with-lyft or www.uber.com/drive.

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