BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Multiple state agencies released guidelines on Tuesday related to the oversight of ride-sharing companies, which will begin operating on June 29 after Gov. Cuomo signed legislation to launch operations ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.
The companies -- most notably Uber and Lyft -- are already seeking drivers as they prepare to offer services across the state of New York less than four weeks from now. At least 5,000 people in Western New York, for example, have already started applying to drive for Uber. And although Lyft's spokesperson could not confirm an actual number of applications, the company reports "strong interest" from potential drivers in the Buffalo area.
The companies and their drivers will operate under the new regulations released by three state agencies on Tuesday, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which offered more clarification on the hiring process. According to the DMV's rules, drivers who wish to work for these companies must submit to background checks-- not only initially, but every 12 months from the time they start driving.
Drivers will also be required to enroll in a License Event Notification Service, which would let their company know if they've had their license revoked or suspended. Under state regulations, drivers must be at least 19 years old to drive with a permit for ride-sharing. Uber and Lyft, however, both require their drivers to be at least 21 years old.
As the companies, state agencies and municipalities prepare for the June 29 launch, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has also been in discussions with ride-sharing companies to offer service at the airport. The NFTA has communicated with both Uber and Lyft, and although there has not been an official agreement, it appears they are close to finalizing a deal to allow the airport to earn a slice of revenue from airport rides.
Airport staff are also actively preparing for the arrival of ride-sharing companies. They are reviewing logistics, including pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as accommodations for people with disabilities or special needs.