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Another Voice: Ride-hailing services will boost WNY economy

By Raymond Walter

Buffalo is the only American city with an NFL team without access to ride-hailing services. What kind of impression does that leave for fans and visitors to Buffalo and Orchard Park? Wouldn’t it be great if we could offer Bills fans a safe, affordable ride home to accommodate the roller coaster of emotions following a Bills win (or loss) at New Era Field on Sundays?

It’s a void that needs to be filled. At a time when the state has invested hundreds of millions of dollars for economic development projects to revitalize the city, we see Buffalo making a comeback in more ways than one.

Bringing ride-hailing to Western New York will help bring Buffalo back to its former glory as an All-American city.

Transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft connect riders and drivers using smartphone applications to arrange a ride. The popularity of these companies and the ride-hailing service they offer has rapidly grown all across the country.

While New York doesn’t allow these companies to operate outside of New York City, the demand to allow ride-hailing statewide continues to grow.

Ride-hailing services will help boost the local and regional economy in Western New York. We can expect ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to create thousands of jobs. We can also expect emerging neighborhoods to become more accessible.

As a result, people all across Western New York will be able to reach the ever-growing areas of the city. You can bet they’ll be staying out later and spending more money at local businesses, too.

And how about the drivers? What we have seen in New York City, as well as other major cities across the country, is that Uber and Lyft drivers have taken on this additional responsibility because it provides supplemental earnings and opportunities beyond their everyday professions.

Drivers are able to work a full-time job or pursue a college degree full time and, at their convenience, earn a couple of extra bucks by providing an essential ride to their neighbors. Ride-hailing is connecting people to people, people to businesses and businesses to other businesses. And with fair regulations in place, it is doing it safely.

Ride-hailing will help to make our roads safer. Whether you are a college student leaving Chippewa on a Saturday night, a professional wanting to catch up with friends for dinner in Allentown, or just a lifelong Bills fan awaiting a return to the glory days every Sunday, it will be comforting when the day comes that an Uber or Lyft driver is waiting at a moment’s notice to bring us home safely to our families.

I am introducing legislation in the Assembly to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate statewide in New York. I encourage people to reach out to their state Assembly members and senators to encourage them to support legislation to allow ride-hailing services.

Raymond Walter, R-Amherst, represents the 146th Assembly District.

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