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Zemsky reaches for Uber app, driving home lack of upstate ride-hailing

Talk of Uber may be everywhere in the Buffalo region, but the ride-hailing service is still nowhere to be found upstate of the Big Apple, including in New York’s second most populous metro area.

Howard Zemsky,  who leads the Empire State Development, drove home that point earlier this week at a speaking engagement in the state capital, which he was almost late to.

“I took out my smartphone and I instinctively went to my Uber app,” Zemsky said, tongue in cheek. “The car arrived two hours and 45 minutes later because it came from New York City.”

Buffalo is the largest city in the nation — and the only city with both a National Football League and National Hockey League teams — without ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Meanwhile, those ride-hailing services do operate in New York City and are a staple of everyday life in most other major U.S. markets.

Albany lawmakers have rejected legislation that would open the door for Uber and Lyft to operate in upstate New York for fear by upstate taxi companies that it would threaten their businesses and lead to the layoff of an estimated 11,500 non-driver positions.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has previously offered d support for expanding Uber and Lyft to upstate New York, last month said: “We need the people of upstate to tell their representatives: Don’t come home until you’ve passed ride sharing.”

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