DHC’s Arthur Goldstein was quoted in an article discussing Uber public safety in Westchester
With fewer than 10 days remaining until companies like Uber and Lyft can officially take to Westchester streets, the fight over ride-hailing isn’t over yet.
On June 29, New Yorkers who live outside the five boroughs will be able to use smartphone apps to call a cab, with Uber reporting 10,000 drivers signed up in Westchester alone.
But opponents of ride-hailing continue to lobby the county to opt-out of the state-crafted regulations, and County Executive Rob Astorino continues to negotiate more stringent regulations that would appease the existing taxi and limousine companies.
Counties and cities with more than 100,000 people are allowed to opt out of the service.
“I have no problem with Uber coming into Westchester, as long as they are registered and follow our rules and regulations,” Joseph Gross, owner of Eclipse Limousine, said at Monday night’s Board of Legislators meeting.
Gross, and several other speakers at the meeting, said drivers for ride-hailing services will be able to play by their own set of rules unless the county opts-out and draws up its own rules. A driver for a ride-hailing company would not have to undergo drug testing, they said, or get fingerprinted, as required by the county Taxi and Limousine Commission.
“Your TLC commissioner will tell you that about 32 percent of the applicants under your present rules can’t drive in Westchester,” said attorney Arthur Goldstein, citing figures of potential taxi drivers disqualified by fingerprinting. “Where do we think these drivers are going to rush to on June 29? They’re going to flock to Uber and Lyft.
“I’m asking all of you to stand up to this $65 billion company that will spend six figures on advertising,” Goldstein added.
Astorino and members of the county TLC twice canceled meetings with the legislature’s public safety committee on ride-hailing. Monday, Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett asked the committee chairman to defer discussing the new law until after Westchester can work with Nassau County and Yonkers to present a joint proposal to Uber.
County lawmakers, some of whom have publicly supported Uber in the past, have said they want to review the regulations, written by the state Department of Motor Vehicles before choosing to stick with the state’s rules or opt-out and write their own.
Uber already operates in Westchester illegally, and legalization could mean a loss of $800,000 in revenue from fines.
Plunkett said Westchester is aiming that whether it opts out or not, it would be consistent with Yonkers.
Meanwhile, Uber wrote to the legislature and Astorino Tuesday morning.
“We understand the incumbent taxi industry is putting immense pressure on you so we’d like to take a moment to assuage any concerns that have been raised,” wrote Uber NY’s Senior Policy Manager Josh Gold.
Gold cites a poll that says Uber has the support of nearly 80 percent of suburban voters, an American Public Transportation Association study that found ride-hailing services bolster public transit use and a study from Temple University that found Uber decreases drunk driving deaths.
“We are eager to work with stakeholders in your community to ensure that ride sharing is serving the people of Westchester County,” the letter reads. “We are hopeful you will listen to your constituents who are demanding this service and allow ride sharing to operate.”