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Feb 8, 2018 4:41 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming Calls For Temporary Ban On Ride-Sharing Services

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming at Tuesday's public hearing. COURTESY BRIDGET FLEMING
Feb 8, 2018 5:15 PM

Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming has proposed a temporary ban on ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft in Suffolk County.

At a public hearing held at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge, she argued that while ride-sharing services offer “undeniable benefits,” both Lyft and Uber desperately require regulation.

She proposed a new law, which if approved, would require that a portion of a 4-percent state tax on ride sharing revenue be funneled to Suffolk County. “At least until our critical need for public transportation funding is met.”

Currently, the state receives the entire 4-percent tax.

The legislator noted that in recent months, eight Suffolk County bus routes were cut due to a lack of funding, estimating a $10 million deficit in the county’s public transportation budget.

“There are such dire needs in the public transportation system,” Ms. Fleming said, stressing that revenue from ride-sharing would significantly reduce the crippling deficit. “We ignored a potential significant revenue source that could have helped folks that are now in the cold because their bus routes were cut.”

She added that when state legislation approved ride-sharing statewide in April, the companies were willing to funnel the surcharges into county funds, but that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office stepped in and pushed to divert the money into state coffers to fund the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA.

“At the last minute, the state came in and said, ‘Nope, it all goes to state,’” Ms. Fleming said. “It was wrong of New York State to impose a scenario where we could opt out completely or opt in without any control.”

Danielle Filson, an Uber spokesperson, declined to comment on Thursday on where the funds are directed.

In addition, Ms. Fleming pointed to the county’s new “TransLoc Rider App,” which helps passengers track buses on their phones, noting that even that has suffered from the lack of funding.

“When I turned to the county and said, ‘How do we get the word out?’ their response was ‘We don’t have any funding.’”

Ms. Filson argued this week that Ms. Fleming’s proposed ban is a disservice to “thousands of Suffolk County riders” as well as “the tens of thousands of local drivers who depend on the platform for flexible earning opportunities.”

In a June 2017 report by The Rideshare Guy, an online blog and podcast for ride-share users, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp estimated that the mobile app provides work to over 2 million drivers, adding that more than 65 million riders rely on the service worldwide.

Manorville resident Susana Campo is one of those who rely on ride-sharing services.

She said she regularly uses the app when she goes out to have a few drinks, adding that her husband, Michael, uses the app at least eight times a month for transportation to and from the train station and airport for work.

“I believe it saves lives,” Ms. Campo said.

Ms. Fleming said on Thursday that it is not her intention to ban ride-sharing completely. “I have no intention of shutting down ride-sharing,” she said. “It’s my hope that a compromise can be reached so local government can ensure that the companies are operating in a way that’s beneficial for everyone.”

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So, this is about taxes, not Uber?

We need the ride sharing companies to pay taxes so that useless apps for buses that no one wants to ride can be rolled out to the public.

Typical Democrat.
By Draggerman (736), Southampton on Feb 8, 18 6:26 PM
You beat me to it! How like a Democrat -- regulate and tax!

How many other legislative proposals has Ms. Fleming ever made? Mostly she shows up for photo ops and ground-breaking ceremonies.




By Frank Wheeler (1748), Northampton on Feb 8, 18 7:11 PM
Typical progressive politician. Seeking to use the power of government to restrict the free market and pick pockets for government waste.
By HB90 (143), southampton on Feb 8, 18 7:22 PM
4 members liked this comment
Absolutely ridiculous. How about letting the bus riders pay for the buses-which is about just over $2. How could anyone expect to pay for salaries, buses, maintenance, or diesel fuel?! Why is Suffolk giving $2 rides?
By Lets go mets (322), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 5:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
What about those Republicans.. spend, spend, spend... our kids will be saddled with debt forever. Sad.
By harbor (305), East Hampton on Feb 9, 18 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
How much money is spent on Suffolk county bus program? How many people are served by that program? What is projected growth? How rigid is this structure to change and meeting needs of low income riders?

What could Uber and Lyft offer in contrast to bus program? Would money be better spent subsidizing rides through them?

Work the problem!
By Amagansett Voter (34), Amagansett on Feb 9, 18 8:51 AM
Bridget remove the ring from your left thumb or you will loose the top of that didget,just saying
By watchdog1 (428), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 8:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think it is well established now that if you try to go against disruptive technology or services that mostly provide more efficient service to people you are likely on the losing side of that argument. Rather than hold ride-sharing services hostage to the county's beef with state money (which it is right now), why not try another avenue? Can we get some people in office who can find more creative ways to solve emerging problems than to just build roadblocks that try to maintain the status quo?
By Rickenbacker (232), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 9:50 AM
This isn’t about ride-sharing or bus service as such, and it certainly isn’t about cheap shots at Bridget Fleming. It’s about local government getting a fair share of taxes that are paid locally. Ms Fleming’s measure doesn’t target ride-sharing except as a means of stopping the state from grabbing all the tax revenue derived from that activity and giving back zero to Suffolk County for badly needed public transport. It’s a good and bold initiative for which Ms. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1781), Quiogue on Feb 9, 18 9:51 AM
While I agree with you that no one should be taking cheap shots at Bridget personally, the fact remains that the tactic is like holding a gun to the ride-sharing industry and telling the state that you will not put the gun down until you get the money. Not a good public relations image, frankly. There must be a better, smarter way than that, unless that's just you believe that this is politics, county (gangsta)-style. That needs to change as well, then.
By Rickenbacker (232), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 10:44 AM
Oh yeah, George. She’s getting credit alright.

This is absolutely one of the best stunts I’ve seen.

The bus system is obviously not self sufficient. If it was a business it would be bankrupt and gone. Instead of trying to grab taxes, how about trying to turn it into a self supporting service? At $2 a ride it obviously is priced too low... Maybe cut some of the fat from management...
By Draggerman (736), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 10:46 AM
Let’s ban the helicopters too Bridge, maybe you can get some money out of them...
By icecreamman (320), Southampton on Feb 9, 18 10:41 AM
Soo instead of fostering a service that people want to use lets ban it, tax it, and funnel the money to a terrible bus system that no one wants to use.

Great idea...
By TrueHamptons (16), Sag Harbor on Feb 9, 18 10:42 AM
2 members liked this comment
Beyond dumb. One is used to commute, one is used for leisure. To hold up leisure spending until we can fix commuting issues is just stupid.
By Brandon Quinn (128), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 18 11:41 AM
Hitchhiking has been against the law for decades because psychopaths were picking up people and accosting them, just like with Uber.
By SlimeAlive (731), Southampton on Feb 10, 18 8:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
Hospitals aren’t self supporting, parks aren’t self supporting, and schools aren’t self supporting, but we need them. Because we have to have them, we support them as a matter of the common good.

It’s the same with public transport; we have to have it. You may not have noticed, but there are lots of people on the East End who can’t yet afford a car and can’t afford ride sharing or cabs either. I’m getting nervous about driving at night with all ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1781), Quiogue on Feb 11, 18 12:56 PM
Actually many, hospitals are self supporting. Southampton Hospital was running a significant profit just before it was bought by SUNY -- when all citizens are required to have health insurance, the hospitals make money. The chief admins of these healthcare organizations make a fortune.

It's only when the government requires emergency rooms in poor neighborhoods to take and care for everyone regardless of their ability to pay that hospitals lose money -- that drain is paid for by all of ...more
By dfree (390), hampton bays on Feb 12, 18 7:12 AM
Typical politicians wanting to get a piece of any successful business. Its the old saying...it never comes down to money...It ALWAYS comes down to money. Taxation in the name of safety, the new way the politicians raise money. 5 cent bags anyone?
By The Real World (339), southampton on Feb 12, 18 1:44 PM
This can replace expensive publicly subsidized buses and the inefficient and poorly run LIRR:
"On Friday, we discovered that Waymo, the self-driving Google spinoff, has been granted a permit to operate as a Transportation Network Company in the state of Arizona. This means that it can launch an official ride-hailing service and start charging customers for their journeys."
By dfree (390), hampton bays on Feb 17, 18 2:42 PM
Another solution in search of a problem...
By bird (672), Sag Harbor on Feb 18, 18 10:12 AM
Bay Burger, Sag Harbor