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Ride Hailing Comes to Rockland

by Hannah Welles
Good news for supporters of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft: As of today they will finally be allowed to legally operate in Rockland County. A deal was struck earlier this year that allowed Uber and Lyft to run throughout all of New York State, but permitted large cities and counties to opt out of the agreement.
While many will be relieved to finally have the convenience of requesting a ride at their fingertips, the transition to having these app-based companies run in the area has been somewhat controversial. There have been several occasions of drivers being accused and charged with sexual assault or misconduct, causing some to feel unsafe when using the service.
Some officials were hesitant to move forward with the ride-sharing apps because of these safety concerns, especially in Rockland and Westchester Counties. Previously, Rockland officials wanted more information about the safety of the users, which prevented the services from becoming legal sooner. After tense relations between the companies and Westchester County, the two groups finally reconciled with an agreement to have voluntary fingerprinting for drivers, which would give them a higher safety rating than those who did not submit to having their fingerprints in the system.
Should Rockland County have the same regulation? One twenty-year-old Nyack resident, who preferred to be left anonymous, said that he would feel safer knowing that his driver had volunteered to be fingerprinted. But despite all the controversy, he is pleased that Uber will be allowed to legally operate here. Since he cannot drive, these services could make it substantially easier for him to get where he needs to go without relying on bus schedules and expensive taxis.
However, for taxi drivers, ride-hailing apps may lead to the decline of their industry, causing job losses for not the drivers and others who work at the taxi companies. Approximately 46,000 drivers for the ride-hailing services work in the New York City area, a number now four times greater than that of traditional yellow taxis. Could the ride-sharing apps lead to trouble for the local taxi industry? The Committee for Taxi Safety reports that this new agreement could lead to up to 11,000 lost jobs across upstate New York. Groups of taxi drivers have staged protests against the increased popularity of Uber in Manhattan throughout the year. And recently, Westchester groups followed suit.
There are no signs of protests in Rockland. But many fingers are poised to request a ride.

Hannah Welles is a Nyack News & Views intern. She is a rising sophomore at Barnard College. 

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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