Updated Thursday, Oct. 22 10:31 a.m.
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — In the future, you may be able to take an Uber car on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is in favor of a statewide licensing system for Uber, and the service now wants to expand to serve the 3 million residents of Long Island.
Uber wants to bypass local regulations by getting a state law approved regulating ride sharing, WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola reported.
Uber’s New York general manager, Josh Mohrer, says Long Island needs the service.
“The LIRR is great, but if you don’t live close to a station, that could mean you’re driving your car to the parking lot every day and paying a fee to park,” Mohrer said.
The company said thousands of Long Islanders have already downloaded the Uber app on their phones, and should have the right to be able to hail its drivers.
“Long Island’s cabs take too long to get there; Uber is very fast,” said Jonathan Ferguson.
The Fergusons, of Franklin Square, want an alternative to cabs for Long Island train stations.
“You probably share a cab with, like, four other people before you actually get home to drop off all those people. With Uber, it is just me,” said Stephanie Ferguson.
Currently, the only access to Uber on Long Island is for riders in Nassau County – taking trips to and from New York City. Uber is allowed in the city – considered a car service company, and operated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Rules are set by local governments.
“You can’t do Uber city by city,” Cuomo told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “You can’t say to an Uber, ‘Well, go to every city in the state and come up with a licensing permit,’ right? Because you’d have 200 different varities.”
The general manager of Uber released a report saying the company would create thousands of jobs in Nassau and Suffolk counties and millions of dollars in fares, and deserves the right to expand.
“There is clearly a need for the service,” Mohrer said.
Mohrer added that he believes Uber could help make Long Island safer. “I believe Suffolk County has more drunken driving deaths than any county in the state,” he said.
Uber estimates the law could create 13,000 jobs throughout the state in the first year.
Mohrer said Uber is effective and efficient with a strong customer base. But commuter Stephen Quigley of Mineola said not so fast.
“I’d be more willing to go with a cab because they are licensed, they are marked, and you know what you’re going to get,” Quigley said.
And cabbies themselves are also concerned.
“We have customers that are loyal to us, but you got to think about it — the more Uber cars, the less that us cab drivers will be able to make,” said Long Island taxi driver Allen Simpkins.
And Simpkins’ concerns are with good reason – with promises of good money and flexible work hours, current cabbies feel the Uber lure. Long Island taxi driver Zach Morrison said switching to Uber might be a “possibility” for him.
“I’ve heard that they make a lot of money or they do pretty well,” Morrison said.
Before the service can broaden its reach, the New York state legislature must overhaul insurance regulations.
Cuomo said a statewide policy would be better than a complicated patchwork of city-by-city Uber licensing rules.
The governor appeared to be seeking in the upper hand as New York City nears the end of a four-month study launched after Uber beat back Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt to impose temporary limits on its growth, Diamond reported.
In a statement, a spokesman for the mayor said there are laws in place that govern trips between counties and city leaders are confident in the high standards in place in the city to protect the riding public.