Regulations Should Not Protect Failing Companies

Uber, the app-based ride-hailing service, would like the New York State Legislature to approve statewide regulations that would allow it to operate throughout the state. The service already operates in the New York City area but its plan to expand into cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse has faced opposition from taxi cab companies.

Rather than a statewide policy, however, legislators are instead considering a bill that would force Uber, or another ride-sharing company called Lyft, to get approval from local governments before being able to operate.

We think this is the wrong approach. It would be better to have a statewide policy that has appropriate conditions that allow Uber and Lyft to give people the opportunity to make money using their vehicles much like the analogous Airbnb.com has allowed New York state residents to use their homes to operate short-term bed-and-breakfasts.

It’s time to face the reality that technology is disrupting the old forms of commerce, and Uber and Lyft are simply another example of that. New York state should not fall into the trap of trying to protect existing companies in a doomed effort to forestall change. It would be better to pass statewide regulations and give a clear time table for their implementation, giving all of the interests time to prepare in an orderly fashion.