The Rochester Intercollegiate Council released an open letter on Feb. 12 urging lawmakers to pass two bills that would eliminate restrictions on ridesharing companies such as Lyft and Uber in order to increase avenues of transportation for students and young professionals. According to the New York State Assembly, Assembly Bill A.6090 and New York State Senate Bill S.4280 have a purpose to “establish, regulate and provide proper insurance for transportation network companies and drivers” as well as “amend the insurance law, the vehicle and traffic law, the general municipal law and the transportation law, in relation to transportation network companies” respectively. Drafted in March 2015, the bills have yet to be voted on by the New York State legislature.
Described as a coalition of nine colleges and universities in the Rochester area—including Geneseo—the RICC stated in the letter, “The implementation of Assembly Bill A.6090 (Cahill) and Senate Bill S.4280 (Seward) will benefit the students enrolled in institutions of higher education in a variety of ways, and create an avenue for mobility and long-term investment for young professionals in the Rochester community.”
Spearheading the initiative is Rochester Institute of Technology Student Government President senior Nick Giordano. “There is a lack of transportation that is keeping young professionals from staying in Rochester,” he said in a phone interview.
Giordano expanded on his reasoning by describing the safety benefits for students who do not rely on local bus transportation. As stated in the letter, “A ridesharing study conducted by Temple University found a 3.6-5.6 percent decrease in drunk driving incidents within nine–15 months of introducing transportation network companies in various United States cities.”
In addition to accessibility and safety benefits, the RICC stressed the economic growth that permitting ridesharing would spur for both students and residents of Rochester and upstate New York. According to an article published in October 2015 by The New York Times, Uber NY general manager Josh Mohrer believes that the company could provide the area with approximately 13,000 freelance driving jobs.
Student Association President senior Andrew Hayes expressed similar hopes in regard to employment for Geneseo students. “I can see this creating opportunities for students to make some money, as well as provide a pretty convenient service,” he said.
Hayes also addressed the lack of transportation to and from Rochester available for Geneseo students in particular. “Right now, the shuttle only runs to the city on Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “An Uber ride could be a cheaper alternative for someone who needs to get to Rochester.”
Giordano estimated that the bills will undergo voting within a few months, but they need more public support to be passed. The RICC plans to reach out to a variety of colleges throughout New York State to create a “unified campaign across many campuses.”
“Although it’s not specifically our initiative, we recognize what it could do for our campus and we are on board,” Hayes said. “We want to strengthen our relationship with other student governments.” He added that he sees this coalition as an opportunity to do so.