ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) - Uber and Lyft could be coming to upstate New York under legislation passed by the state Senate.
The two ride-hailing companies are now prohibited from operating outside of the New York City area. Previous attempts to authorize the expansion have been blocked in part by opposition from the taxi cab industry.
The Republican-led Senate approved the bill Monday.
"Ride-sharing apps are not legal outside New York City," Sen. David Carlucci told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond. "It's just not regulated by New York State, so that puts the consumer at risk, and that's a real problem."
Lawmakers from both parties said it's unfair to prevent upstate residents from using the same ride-hailing services that are now widespread in New York City and elsewhere. They predicted the expansion would be good for the local economy while reducing drunken driving and expanding transportation options.
"This really breaks down barriers for transportation, gives people an opportunity to make extra money by driving people," Carlucci said. "It really comes into the 21st century and in line with the rest of the nation."
A group representing the state's taxi drivers claims the bill will allow Uber to operate outside of the boundaries of rules that apply to them.
"From a public safety point of view, we like a fingerprinting, and the Senate seems to have ignored that," John Tomassi, head of the Upstate Transportation Association said.
Tomassi has slammed lawmakers supporting the bill, saying they have capitulated to Uber's high-priced lobbyists.
The Democrat-controlled Assembly has yet to vote on the measure. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports the expansion.
Buffalo is now the second-largest U.S. city without Uber.
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