New York looks to Uber and Lyft to create jobs.

Gov. Cuomo endorses Uber/Lyft expansion throughout state

"Ridesharing:" "If it makes sense for Downstate, it makes sense for Upstate." Gov. Andrew Cuomo, January 9, 2016, Buffalo, New YorkIn the Buffalo version of his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo placed the expansion of “ridesharing” to Upstate New York at the center of his jobs plan.

Cuomo discussed “ridesharing” as part of his Middle Class Recovery Act. It represented jobs in the Jobs and Infrastructure section.

Here is a transcript of Governor Cuomo’s discussion of “ridesharing.”

26:56 On jobs and infrastructure, it’s all about embracing the new innovation economy–and it starts with something as simple as embracing ride-sharing.

Ride-sharing [pause for ten seconds of applause]… ride-sharing is creating thousands of jobs; it’s promoting safety for passengers; it’s making transportation less expensive. Uh, it’s… it’s helpful for people who go out, uh, and may have a few drinks. It’s actually, uh, safer for drunk… from a drunk driving point of view.

It makes total sense.

However, it’s not allowed in Upstate New York, because it requires a vote of the legislature.

But meanwhile it is allowed in Downstate New York.

This is one of those examples, my friends, where it’s just an unfair duality. If it makes sense for Downstate, it makes sense for Upstate [eight seconds of applause].

Upstate is left out. It’s thousands of jobs. It’s more tourism. It’s costs savings. It’s unfair to leave out Upstate, because remember Upstate Matters. And that’s what I want you to tell your legislators when they come home, “Don’t come home to Buffalo unless you pass ride-sharing for Upstate New York” [seven seconds of applause].

There are numerous problems here.

  1. Uber creates tourism? Haven’t heard that one.
  2. Arguments claiming ride-hailing reduces drunk driving confuse causation and correlation.
  3. Ride-hailing companies do not create jobs on a substantive level.

Don’t believe me. Uber doesn’t create jobs–according to Uber

As I write this, radio ads for Uber can be heard in New York describing Uber as a side-hustle, a part time gig to bring in some extra scratch.

Politicians like to blather about “jobs” when Uber enters a market, but the company has backed off the “j”-word as governments contemplate categorizing drivers as employees.

Uber and the other ride-hailing companies classify drivers as contractors, but some argue that drivers are employees. A lot of money rides on arrangement. (I have a post on employee/contractor status.)

Interestingly, when two London drivers took Uber before a labor tribunal seeking to be recognized as employees, Uber reps backed off the word “job” offering instead the mellifluous  ‘economic opportunity to earn money,’ as reported by The Guardian.

Will Cuomo support fingerprinting?

Downstate, as Cuomo describes it, New York City’s Taxi Licensing Commission imposes the world’s toughest regulations for ride-hailing companies. These regs require:

  1. Drivers pass stringent background check, including fingerprinting,
  2. Drivers obtain chauffeur licenses,
  3. Drivers obtain commercial insurance.

If “Upstate Matters” then surely it deserves the same safety requirements as the City.

For an excellent article on New York City regs, I recommend “Labor protections rise in New York’s Uber, Lyft debate,” by Matthew Hamilton in the Albany Times Union.

From the State of the State it appears that Governor Cuomo has absorbed the talking points of the ride-hailing industry. Expect Uber and Lyft to expand Upstate with simplified background checks and lower insurance requirements compared to NYC.


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