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Transportation

Ride hailing finally starts in upstate

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News File Photo
An Uber official and the head of the Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism Association take one of the first Uber rides in central New York.

The ride hailing era in upstate has begun. Central New Yorkers began using Uber or Lyft to snag a ride Thursday.

Uber, the bigger of the two ride hailing operations, came to Syracuse to offer an example of how the app based ride hailing system works. Uber spokesman Sean Connor hailed a car in Armory Square.

“One of the great things about the app, it tells me the make, model and driver, so I get into the right car -- which is important,” Connor said.

His destination was lunch, at where else? Dinosaur Barbecue. Joining Connor was Jim Wefers of the Greater Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism Association.

"There is been no one saying, ‘no we don’t want this here.’ Every comment is positive. Every comment is how can we make this a better city not just for tourists, but for people who live here,” Wefers said.

Connor says he doesn’t know exactly how many Uber drivers are available in central New York, but he adds there are thousands signed up across the upstate. He says many are students or professional drivers looking for extra work. Or they’re retirees, like Connor’s driver, a woman named Tamera from North Syracuse, still figuring out how it’ll work for her.

"I was actually thinking about early morning. Some people need trips to the airport. Something like that. But I’m going to play it by ear. I think it’s a great thing, not just because I’m a driver, but because i would want an Uber ride," she said.

There are still some things to work out. Uber still hasn’t come to an agreement with the Hancock International Airport. Lyft already has an agreement with the airport. Connor says Uber is working with some of the bigger destinations around Syracuse, from concert venues to hospitals, to optomize pick up and drop off.

"I don’t have any specific partnerships to announce at this point, but we’re hoping to become part of the fabric of Syracuse, and that’s why we’re up here.”