The state in its budget essentially approved ride sharing (Uber and Lyft) for the rest of New York State. That is considered by most to be a good thing, but I feel it is important that New Yorkers see that it does present some problems.
The big one is that the Uber drivers outside of New York City are not fingerprinted as part of their background checks. Without fingerprinting, a thorough review to determine if they have any issues that should prevent them from becoming Uber drives cannot be made.
This is the Uber corporate model around the world. There have been issues. Recently, a review in Boston of those who are driving with Uber showed that a large number of the drivers had problems with their driving records or worse that should have prevented them from driving for Uber. They are driving because they lied on their applications and the review done without fingerprinting was insufficient to identify the problems.
In New York City, Uber comes under the jurisdiction of the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) that requires fingerprinting. Large counties like Nassau and Westchester can opt out of the state program and then negotiate directly with Uber to bring them under their regulatory bodies but until that happens Uber drivers outside the city will not go through the same review that Uber drivers in the city must go through.
Another concern is the negative effect Uber has on the existing taxi and livery systems. The owners of the medallions have invested a great deal of money, as have the owners of the liveries. Banks have loaned funds just if they would to any business.
You may say that is not your problem and argue that Uber and other ride sharing companies are the future. Even if that is true, government has some responsibility to foster competition and for that matter be cognizant of the economic investments of the thousands involved in taxis and liveries.
The state legislation prevents out-of-town Ubers dropping off people in the city from picking up a fare on their app. Unfortunately, that is not a perfect solution since in other localities the Uber drivers have trolled for passengers which would be unfair to city Uber drivers, taxis and liveries.
The legislation requires these out-of-town Uber drivers to use an app different from the city app. It will not work in the city. These cars will also have a marking identifying them as being from out of town. In the city, if they are caught picking up a fare by TLC enforcement officers, they can get in serious trouble.
If you do not care. you should care. We are best served by multiple for-hire services. Uber for its part would be just as happy if it put everyone else out of business. It is so large, if government is not watchful, it probably will be the only one left standing. Less competition is not a good thing from the consumer perspective.
The Brooklyn Conservative Party has interviewed Bo Dietl, Paul Massey and Michael Faulkner for mayor. In addition, I noticed there is a Draft Nicole Malliotakis for Mayor effort underway. Soon the Conservative Party will be making its decision.
Many might say the candidate of the Conservative Party has no chance of winning. That could well be true.
One other thing is true. It seems that almost everyone I run into complains about Mayor de Blasio. He is unlikely to get a primary. Thus, the Conservative Party candidate who might very well be running on the Republican Party line will be the only choice. It will be between that candidate and de Blasio.
Four years ago less than 25 percent of the city’s registered voters bothered to vote. Yet, 100 percent complained about something over the last four years.
The Republican and Conservative Parties will be giving the voters a qualified choice. If you do not vote this November, please do not complain.