Battle for Uber in New York Has a New Advocate

New York Rep. Chris Collins pledged his support to the ride-sharing service based on his belief that the company is driving the economy by being on the cutting edge of technology.

by Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News, N.Y. / November 9, 2015
New York Congressman, Chris Collins (R-NY)wikicommons/US Government

(TNS) -- Uber has a friend in Rep. Chris Collins.

The popular ride-sharing service – which is still barred from operating in Buffalo – has announced a “NY Needs Uber Coalition,” and Collins, a Republican from Clarence, was the only member of Congress listed among its members.

Asked why he had gone out of his way to back a ride-sharing service that’s loathed by medallion-toting cabdrivers in Buffalo and across the country, Collins cited both economics and personal experience as his motivation.

Uber is a tech-driven, smartphone-based service that simply moves people around better than cabbies do, Collins said, citing his own experiences in the nation’s capital.

“Cheaper, better, faster,” Collins said in describing those Uber experiences.

Uber is waging a campaign to get the State Legislature to pass a measure to allow such ride-sharing services – which use a smartphone app to connect passengers with drivers – to operate in New York.

And as part of the effort, the company announced a coalition that includes the head of the Business Council of New York State, the New York State Restaurant Association and Mothers Against Drunk Driving to push its agenda.

“We are a coalition of New Yorkers who want to see Albany leaders embrace new technology that will build on the Empire State’s economic revitalization,” the coalition said in a mission statement.

“We support ride-sharing services like Uber, which has the potential to create 13,000 jobs in one year and make our communities safer by reducing drunk driving incidents.”

Collins endorsed Uber a week after Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said he thinks the service should be allowed to operate in New York State.

The congressman cited Uber’s popularity as another reason for bringing it to Buffalo.

“It truly is taking the country by storm,” he said.

Besides, Uber could come in handy for young people in Buffalo, the congressman said.

“I think there are a lot of people on Chippewa Street at 2 in the morning that you’d like to see call Uber and not drive home,” he said.

©2015 The Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.