Former state insurance official, now representing cab industry, cautions Buffalo lawmakers about permitting continued hiring of drivers through phone apps

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BUFFALO, NY - The debate over ride shares continued before Buffalo's Common Council on Tuesday, where several speakers appeared before the Committee on Community Development to criticize the services, where you canhire a driver through a phone app, which are growing in popularity... and controversy across the country.

There are indications they may soon be temporarily banned here, until regulations for them can be adopted.

Speaking before lawmakers, Greg Serio, who once served as New York State's Superintendent for Insurance, expressed serious concerns regarding both insurance for customers, drivers, and other motorists, as well a declaring that rideshares have an unfair advantage over traditional liveries.

Serio, who currently works for the lobbying firm Park Strategies, made clear to lawmakers that he also is a consultant for the National Taxi, Limousine, and Paratransit Association, and is assisting that group in its efforts to stem the tide of unregulated "for hire" services in the transportation industry.

"I was brought in for my expertise regarding insurance matters," Serio told WGRZ-TV. "There are a lot of guys are riding around in cars thinking their insurance, their personal insurance, will cover them no matter who comes into their car. But as soon as you expose your personal insurance or your homeowners, to any kind of economic (fee) activity, that coverage no longer applies."

Serio, who disputes claims by ride share companies that their insurance policies contain contingent coverage which applies if a driver's personal policy doesn't respond, notes ride shares are currently unencumbered by licensing fees, insurance requirements, and other regulations that add to the bottom line of traditional livery services. He says that results in a competitive advantage over those he represents.

"I don't think anybody in the for hire industry is saying we don't want these guys in here at all. What they're saying is that we follow the rules, we're required to follow these rules, and you should follow the rules as well.

North District Common Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. who chairs the council's Committee on Community Development says he will invite ride share representatives to make their case before lawmakers again in two weeks.

But he also seemed to indicate the days of this new service in Buffalo may be numbered, without some agreeable regulation, and he's already asked the city's law department issue a "cease and desist" letter to ride share firms now operating here, ...which the law department says is still under review.

"If it's ultimately deemed that these are deemed illegal in the city of Buffalo, which I believe is the ultimate direction the law department is headed in, we are going to have to do something," Golombek said.

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