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Ride-sharing not included in Assembly's one-house budget

Posted at 6:13 PM, Mar 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-17 23:18:52-04

March is madness... on the court, and here in Buffalo, it can be madness on the streets.

"You guys in Buffalo don't have Uber? What's wrong with you? Catch up with the times boys," said Bob Hoffman, who came to Buffalo for the NCAA tournament.

Having no ride-sharing in Upstate New York is 'uber bad' in the eyes of many coming from out of town for the tournament. So State Senator Chris Jacobs is trying to change that.

"We're the biggest city without ride-sharing," said Jacobs. "The only NFL city without ride-sharing... it's a real embarrassment, so that's unacceptable in that sense."

But now, a potential setback. While the Senate supports bringing these services to the area, it was left out of the Assembly's one-house budget.

"In the Senate, we put ride-sharing as a priority within our budget," said Jacobs, who has been trying to get Uber to Upstate New York for a while now. "We were very disappointed last week the Assembly did not. It removed it out of the budget, meaning that it's not really a priority within this budget process."

He's not the only state legislator working to get Uber and Lyft in the palm of your hand. Assembly-woman Crystal Peoples-Stokes says what's holding this process back are talks about insurance coverage and safety for those behind the wheel, and in the cars.

"We have some desire to protect the needs of the disabled, some desire to protect the safety of the citizens who use Uber," said Peoples-Stokes. "How will you be covered if something happens to them? All those things need to be worked out. As soon as we work it out, we can get it done."

Senator Jacobs says there is still hope, especially if ride-sharing is included in the state budget, which will be released in two weeks. But if it's not...

"If that fails, then we have the budget process to go through June to get it in a separate piece of legislation," said Jacobs. "That's going to be harder but we'll still try."

Senator Jacobs added he will be working hard these next two weeks to get ride-sharing in the state budget, a reason why he's holding a news conference on this service Saturday mornign outside of Keybank Center.