Supporters and opponents of bringing ridesharing to Buffalo make their voices heard at Albright-Knox rally


Francesca Bond/The Record

Senator Chris Jabobs, Senator Tim Kennedy Assembly-Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly member Mickey Kearns, and Mayor Byron Brown listen to community members speak about ridesharing.

Francesca Bond, Social Media Editor

Buffalonians have strong opinions about bringing ridesharing to Western New York.

A rideshare rally and public forum was held at the Albright-Knox art gallery in Buffalo this morning. Members of the community have the chance to speak with local government officials such as Senator Chris Jacobs, Senator Tim Kennedy Assembly-Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly-Member Mickey Kearns and Mayor Byron Brown.

The difference between ridesharing and a taxi service is that drivers use their own private vehicles and are not employees, but independent contractors for their respective ridesharing services. Through apps like Uber and Lyft, users can hail a ride and pay the drivers. Anyone can sign up to be a driver, and after being vetted, they can offer their driving services for money. There’s typically a $1-2 rider fee, and the third-party service takes between 20-25% of the fare.

Compelling arguments were given from people both for and against ridesharing.

People who support ridesharing list many reasons why it would be good for Buffalo. They argue that it would reduce drunk driving and car accidents considerably, increase tourism and be a cheaper and faster alternative to taxi services.

However, those against ridesharing note downsides. Because rideshare drivers use their own cars, many times they are not easily accessible to disabled people. Many people who represent the disabled community are up in arms about ridesharing services being inaccessible to disabled people.

Government officials expressed their support of ridesharing and explained how they believe it could benefit this community, as well as their desire for it to be accessible for everyone.

Terron Grant, Buffalo State USG President, spoke in support of ridesharing.

“On behalf of the student body, we are in full support of the ridesharing initiative,” Grant said.

Grant went on to explain that students are already doing their own form of ridesharing on campus. Students with cars will often give others rides to the mall or other places if they do not have transportation for a fee.

Many people also complained that Buffalo is less competitive economically versus cities with the service. Many players and visitors complained on Twitter about the lack of ridesharing and accessibility here when Buffalo hosted the NHL Draft in June, 2016.

If legislation passes, ridesharing could be in Buffalo by this fall.

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