ALBANY - Want Uber and Lyft in upstate New York? Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a message for you: Call your legislator.
Cuomo on Tuesday urged New York residents to call their state lawmakers if they want ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft authorized outside New York City, which would require a change in state insurance law.
Buoyed by Cuomo's support, Uber relaunched its New York lobbying efforts Wednesday, sending an email blast to its users and supporters promoting an online petition that was quickly and widely shared across Facebook and other social-media networks.
In Rochester on Tuesday, Cuomo said state residents will have to voice their support for ride-sharing to force the state Legislature to act.
"My greatest power is the ability to organize people and get people mobilized and let that resonate in Albany, and that’s what we’re going to need here," Cuomo told reporters.
"We need the people of upstate to tell their representatives: Don’t come home until you’ve passed ride-sharing."
The state Legislature ended its scheduled session in June this year without taking up a bill that would set up a regulatory structure for ride-sharing, which allows users to summon a ride from one location to another through a mobile app.
The bill was widely criticized by taxi companies and operators, who said Uber and Lyft drivers should be subject to the same rules taxi drivers are. The ride-sharing companies currently operate in New York City under rules set for livery cabs.
In a statement Wednesday, the head of the Upstate Transportation Association, a coalition of taxi operators, criticized Uber's latest push, calling for all ride-sharing drivers to submit to fingerprint background checks.
“Uber is once again trying to expand upstate without providing any of the basic safety protections it offers to riders in New York City," said John Tomassi, the association's president.
"State lawmakers must reject this insulting and dangerous proposition, which would put millions of upstate riders at risk."
Earlier in the day, Uber said it sent an email to 1.5 million New York residents outside New York City who have downloaded the app.
"Albany dysfunction and New York City special interests stood in the way last year -- but we're determined to fight until people like you have access to affordable, reliable transportation options," the company wrote.