From Buffalo Business First:

A new coalition of taxi groups from Upstate is launching increased opposition to the expansion of ride-sharing into places like Western New York.

The Upstate Transportation Association, which represents taxi and livery companies in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Ithaca and Binghamton, says that legislation being proposed in New York to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate throughout the state does not ensure safety and protect customers.

The coalition is calling for the legislation to include fingerprint background checks, medical certifications and a full driving record review for all Uber and Lyft drivers in New York. It says these rules already exist for cab companies.

Lawmakers are also being asked by the coalition to prevent ride-sharing companies from using surge pricing, which it says has led to price gouging in places where ride-sharing is legal, such as New York City. The app-based ride-sharing service is looking for state regulations that would allow it to operate in cities throughout the state.

The Senate Insurance Committee recently passed a bill that would require drivers for these companies to have automobile liability coverage of a minimum of $1 million whenever they have a paid passenger in their personal vehicle. An issue of insurance is what initially kept ride-sharing companies from operating in the state, except for New York City.

The full Senate and state Assembly still have to approve the legislation before these companies can operate around the state.

Mark Ilacqua, a spokesman for the Upstate Transportation Association, says lawmakers are letting Uber and Lyft call the shots in what is being proposed.

“Upstate taxi companies already follow strict rules to protect New Yorkers, but billion-dollar ride-sharing corporations want a free pass to skimp on safety and rake in profits,” he said. “Lawmakers need to do their jobs and write real legislation to regulate Uber and Lyft and create an equal playing field for all upstate drivers.”

He added that ride-sharing companies have rejected fingerprinting in New York City and other cities. There have also been labor law issues that have arisen with ride-sharing companies and their drivers in New York City and throughout the U.S.

With just days remaining in the 2016 state legislative session, the coalition’s members plan to bring up these safety issues, as well as raising concerns with how ride-sharing expansion could negatively impact jobs in upstate New York. Lawmakers plan to adjourn their session June 16.

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