Gov. Cuomo calls for statewide system for taxi service, disability advocates rip Uber

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there should be a statewide system for taxi and livery service, rather than having cities and towns with separate regulations.

He said this following a push by app companies like Uber and Lyft this week to be regulated as transportation network companies, which would allow them to operate them upstate and on Long Island.

“You can’t say come to every city in the state and come up with a licensing permit, because you’d have 200 different varieties,” Cuomo said during a press availability at Hunter College. “So I think we do need a statewide system. You would have a statewide license and then local governments can do local regulations.”

Uber’s black car bases are regulated in New York City by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Black cars can either pick up or drop off in counties like Nassau and Westchester County, but they can’t do both on one trip, according to the city. Cars from other counties, like Rockland and Suffolk County, can only drop off their passengers in the city.

“There are laws in place that govern cross-border trips between counties,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, in response to Gov. Cuomo’s call for a statewide system.

“We are confident in the high standards we have in New York City to protect the riding public.”

Uber has been criticized recently by the United Spinal Association, because its black cars cannot be used by passengers in wheelchairs. The group advocates for people with spinal injuries. Uber currently offers a service that connects passengers with wheelchair-accessible green and yellow cabs, but its black cars are not accessible.

“As you embark on your initiative to operate upstate, I want to remind you that the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who use wheelchairs deserve the same access to your service as those who can walk,” wrote the group’s president James Weisman Wednesday in a letter to Uber’s general manager Josh Mohrer.

“You said Uber might address these accessibility concerns a few years down the road — but that’s not good enough … This discrimination is unacceptable — it’s not right for New York City, and it certainly isn’t right to continue throughout the rest of the state.”

Uber began a strong push this week to begin offering services throughout the state, and said it would help create jobs. It wants drivers who are not professionals to be able to get part-time work by offering up seats in their cars if they get insurance through Uber and pass background checks.

The company estimates it would create thousands of jobs if it was allowed to operate throughout the state, not just in New York City, and hundreds in Albany.

“Uber has the potential to bring 13,000 jobs to New York state at a time when the upstate economy is experiencing a revitalization and investing in innovators,” said spokeswoman Alix Anfang.