U is for Uber-less Albany

Uber, and Lyft, can operate in New York City, but in upstate New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, insurance laws make it difficult to get coverage for drivers.

An article in March 2016 appeared in the local business journal: Schenectady sauce maker, frustrated with ‘apologizing’ for Albany’s cabs, calls for Uber upstate.

“Adine Viscusi [co-owner of Casa Visco] easily takes planes, trains and Ubers to get from the airport to hotels and bodegas when she attends national trade shows. In Albany, she can barely catch a cab… Viscusi said she doesn’t normally take cabs in Albany, but a recent trip from the Amtrak station in Rensselaer has made her a vocal critic.

“‘The cab was a 25-year-old minivan with ripped seats. There was a pack of Newports and Axe in the console. The door on one side didn’t open,’ Viscusi said. ‘It was so embarrassing. To travel so seamlessly from planes, trains, Uber, and rental car. You get to Albany and it’s grinding to a halt. It’s like welcome to the 80s.'”

Another article in the same periodical: “‘It’s so embarrassing to have important people come here and have them get into a beaten-up taxi cab,'” CommerceHub CEO Frank Poore said.

“‘Not all taxi cabs are bad, but many times I have had people show up with drivers who are smoking, or who have to wait for a cab for 30 minutes, or are picking up other people along the ride.'”

Reportedly, Uber, and Lyft, can operate in New York City, but in upstate New York cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, insurance laws make it difficult to get coverage for drivers.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last year that ride-sharing companies should be regulated with a ‘statewide license.’ Legislation has yet to make it to his desk and… there’s been little to no visible progress on the issue this year.” Still, it’s believed that Legalizing Uber would save upstate lives by getting drunk drivers off the road.

There is such a pent-up demand for these services that, when blogger Chuck Miller wrote an April 1 story about Uber reaching an agreement to come to Albany, it was believed by more than a few.

While I don’t have a real need for Uber myself – I don’t have the app – I do have feelings about Albany cabs. I HATE them, for the reasons the businesspeople stated. In fact, I haven’t ridden an Albany cab in well over a decade and was surprised to discover the conditions are no better than they were last century.

I missed a wedding within Albany in 1986; I called 1.5 hours before the event, and an hour later, the cab still had not arrived. We walked – it was 87F – and got there on time for the recessional.

Of course, not everyone loves ride-sharing services. Blogger Dustbury notes the pushback by a taxicab association. And for good reason: Uber and Lyft have devastated L.A.’s taxi industry as trips plummet. “Since the ride-hailing services began operating in Southern California three years ago, the number of L.A. taxi trips arranged in advance has fallen by 42%, according to city data, and the total number of trips has plummeted by nearly a third.”

And Uber has its issues. From the Boston Globe:

“On April 21, [2016] the ride-hailing company agreed to pay up to $100 million to drivers in Massachusetts and California who’d sued over being classified as independent contractors. The settlement didn’t resolve the underlying issue, but it did include another provision that could significantly alter the experience of Uber drivers and passengers alike: The company stopped telling passengers that a tip is included with its fees.

“Instead, it’s now telling them that no tip is included or required. In practice, this means that some drivers may post signs seeking tips — but Uber is declining to build a tipping function into its app.” Uber says tipping is unfair because riders are biased.

Austin, TX no longer has Uber.

And Tucson Weekly reports, Say Goodbye to Creepy Uber Drivers, Ladies.

Chariot, the ride-sharing service, set to go live on April 19, is “driven by women, exclusively for women,” according to the app’s website. “It operates similarly to Uber or Lyft, but only women, girls and boys under 13 can request a Chariot, and all drivers are, unsurprisingly, women… This is meant to make us ride-sharing ladies feel less at risk of being violated by male Uber or Lyft drivers. Nice.”

ABC Wednesday – Round 18

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

15 thoughts on “U is for Uber-less Albany”

  1. Roger, I have been using Uber during trips to NYC and Washington DC for nearly 2 years. SERVICE has been absolutely great, vehicles immaculate, drivers courteous and responsive,and finally costs–exceptionally reasonable.

  2. I don’t know the answer to SP, but I have a son who drives for Uber. I am lucky to live in a much smaller city so I seldom see a taxi. I know we have them; they just don’t seem to go where I drive.

  3. I didn’t realize Austin, TX, wasn’t allowing Uber services any longer. My oldest daughter and her girlfriends, who live in Austin, like to use them when they go out. I know she’s probably disappointed and annoyed. As a matter of fact, last summer she was riding back home and talking with her girlfriends, when all of a sudden the Uber driver said, “I think you’re my cousin.” She looked over, and realized it was her 3rd cousin, whom she hadn’t seen in several years. We don’t have Uber services in Del Rio, but with a population of about 36,000, it’s not surprising. Blessings!

  4. I guess mixed experience/feelings about Uber -have never used it ourselves, since the only time we use a taxi is to the airport, and use airport services.

  5. Is Uber safe? Does the company pay taxes or fees to the local economy? Is it fair to the taxi drivers? That’s what comes to my mind. I suppose if I had to use taxi service, I’d learn about it pronto.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial