A Moratorium on Uber in Suffolk? Just Say No
There’s no question that Uber-and Lyft, etc-needs to be regulated. In the 2016 election the Republicans falsely accused Hillary Clinton of wanting to end Uber. This was a lie as I wrote about in July of 2015.
She actually had some very good ideas on regulating the ‘Uber’ or ‘gig’ economy and bringing it into the 21st century. Those of you who have followed my campaign for Congress in NY District Two know this is an issue I’ve been front and center on-the need to bring workplace regulation and protections into the 21st century.
We have a low wage epidemic in our country and what we need is not the fake GOP tax reform bill but a new New Deal.
But the claim that Hillary wanted to end Uber was false.
But then there’s Suffolk County Bridgett Fleming. As a fellow Democrat I hate to have to criticize her publicly but her proposal of a moratorium on ride sharing in Suffolk is the wrong idea.
“Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming wants to put the brakes on ride sharing.”
“Fleming has proposed legislation to establish a temporary moratorium on ride-sharing services in Suffolk County; a public hearing on the issue will be held at 2:30 p.m on Tuesday at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building, located at 725 Veterans Memorial Highway in Smithtown.”
“In a letter to public transportation supporters, Fleming wrote, “My bill was originally introduced last year after the New York State Legislature approved legislation that allowed mobile ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate in communities across the state, without allowing those communities to either regulate the services or share in surcharge revenues in any way.”
UPDATE: Here is the actual bill Legislator Fleming is introducing.
Listen as far as public transportation goes, if you believe we need to rebuild our moribund public transportation services you are preaching to the choir. But let’s face it: Suffolk-and Nassau-has gutted public transportation
Uber may be a private company but it provides a very useful public service. It’s service is very fast. The drivers are almost always much more polite than cabbies. Unlike cabs, the fare is decided in advance so you don’t have the situation you often have with cabs where they get lost and you’re fare goes up.
And you can rate their service. Beyond this I’ve spoken to some Uber drivers-again they’re very friendly and helpful-and while it depends on your area, drivers can make some very good money.
With all my own concern about the need to raise wages Uber is a company where many workers are taking home very good money. To cut back on Uber-or Lyft, etc-even for the short term would hurt these workers and leave customers stranded. Customers who were already stranded by Nice bus and the cut back in public transportation in Long Island.
“But, according to Danielle Filson, an Uber spokesperson: “Legislator Fleming should listen to the tens of thousands of Suffolk County riders who rely on Uber to move around their communities with ease and the tens of thousands of local drivers who depend on the platform for flexible earning opportunities.”
I’ve kind of given Uber pride of place here so let’s hear from Lyft:
A Lyft spokesperson responded: “Since Day One, Lyft has been focused on increasing occupancy in cars on the road and reducing individual car ownership. We are committed to ensuring that passengers in Long Island can reliably and affordably get around and recognize that that’s possible through a combination of public transit and on-demand service.”
In fact, the Lyft rep said, many top destinations on Long Island are transit stops, showcasing how many people in Long Island are using Lyft to connect with the Long Island Rail Road. “We look forward to continuing to find ways to ensure all options available to Long Island residents are convenient and affordable.”
I personally have only recently become familiar with the great services of Uber and Lyft-of ride sharing. I was introduced to them by my young but very talented campaign manager, Chris North.
Chris wanted to make his own personal statement of support for Uber-he’s one of their best customers:
“Before Uber was allowed on Long Island the only way I could get home was by public transportation or asking someone to give me a ride home and because public transportation ends at 8 p.m. the only way I could get home late was asking for aride. I’m calling out Legislator Bridget Fleming to please consult with her constituents and reconsider this decision.”
You have to understand that Chris lives way out East in Greenport. For him to visit me here in Bayshore is a real trek. Uber makes this trip much more accessible for him.
While Legislator Flemming is right that we need to make sure Uber/Lyft are regulated properly and that the country receives an appropriate amount of tax revenue a moratorium even in the short term is not the right answer.