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,  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.
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.”