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Onondaga County Legislature encourages state to approve ride-sharing services upstate

Onondaga County is jumping on the Uber bandwagon.

State lawmakers are considering changes in state insurance laws that would allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft in upstate and other parts of the state they are currently prohibited. The Onondaga County Legislature, by unanimous vote, is encouraging them to do it.

“We are so far behind the eight ball on this,” said Legislator Kathy Rapp.

That’s why the Republican supported a memorializing resolution that asked the state to make the changes that would allow ride-sharing services in the Syracuse area.

"It’s become a given in cities, people expect to have Uber transportation when they come to town. There’s all kinds of advantages, the quality of services, the safety aspect, the cost and the convenience, it’s all part of the new shared economy,” said Rapp.

Democrat Legislator Chris Ryan sponsored the memorializing resolution. And he says the benefits go beyond helping visitors get around town.

“People desperately need to reduce costs, and if they can find an easier way to get back and forth to work, and it helps the environment, I’m all for that,” said Ryan.

While taxi companies across the state generally have opposed the expansion of legalized ride sharing, Ryan says supporting this shared economic model doesn’t mean taxi companies are on the way out.

"I don’t want to replace anybody who is a taxi driver. It’s a very noble profession. And we need taxi drivers. But at the same time there’s an alternative to do that. And if it’s more convenient, then we need to explore that.”

Also urging the state to okay Uber upstate is Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. The state legislature could take action on the issue before the end of its current session next month.