BUFFALO, N.Y. -- More than 200 people attended a forum in Buffalo to have their opinions heard by lawmakers Saturday on legalizing ridesharing in Upstate New York.
The forum was held at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery with many lawmakers who are for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to bring ridesharing to all of New York State, as it is currently not available outside of New York City.
The event wrapped up around noon.
Those in support of ridesharing touted its benefits of convenience, reduced cost and competition for taxi cabs.
Patrick Kaler, with Visit Buffalo Niagara, said the lack of ridesharing is hurting the tourism economy.
"We might start losing pieces of business, like NCAA, other meetings and conventions, that will say 'well, are you able to move our attendees around your destination in the way that they expect to be transported?'".
Those against allowing ridesharing held a rally outside the forum on the steps of Albright-Knox. They voiced concerns such as how current upstate ridesharing proposals would not serve those in wheelchairs or with other disabilities, and how it could funnel money away from expanding and improving current transportation systems.
"This isn't an item of convenience for us," Todd Vaarwerk, with WNY Independent Living, said of transportation. "This is a civil right for us. So not only am I saying that it's got to be available. It's got to be available the day Uber starts. Those vehicles have got to be available the first day. If they're not, this program is not ready."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, a ridesharing supporter, said at the forum he believes ridesharing could be offered in a way that is accessible to everyone and that provides an economic boost to communities.
"My concept of ridesharing for the community is ridesharing that is accessible to all," he said. "Ridesharing that allows all forms of transportation access to be available to be available to the residents of our community. We want people to have as many forms of transportation access as possible."