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Syracuse University researching ride sharing in Syracuse

Karen DeWitt
Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber, surrounded by state lawmakers and other supporters in 2015, unsuccessfully advocated for the ride sharing service beyond New York City.

Syracuse University researchers are hoping an academic study of sustainable transportation can help convince state lawmakers to allow ride sharing services like Uber in upstate New York. 

The year-long study looks to identify alternatives to the way many people get around in upstate New York; one person driving a car. SU architecture professor Tarek Rakha, who’s leading the study, said that includes something New York state law currently doesn’t allow upstate -- ride sharing, through services like Uber or Lyft.

“Car sharing, ride sharing, it will change mobility patterns and will be safe for everyone as well,” Rakha said. "But the legislative and challenges and hurdles we face currently in Syracuse are a burden and we hope to overcome this through a deeper academic understanding of it."

The study is funded by the New York State Department of Transportation and NYSERDA, the state's energy and research development agency. It comes on the heels of an unsuccessful attempt to get Albany to change insurance laws that would allow ride sharing services upstate. Rakha said the time to move on this is now with cities like Syracuse currently seeing an uptick in downtown development, creating a template for a new generation of cities.

"You want this relationship between a dense downtown and a sprawling situation to have an ease in connection, so that becomes a very good opportunity for ride sharing,” Rahka said. 

Anyone who works, lives or visits Syracuse can take the brief online survey at soa.syr.edu/fast

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.