Wheelchair accessibility advocates speak out against Uber expansion to Buffalo

Local News

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In the latest in the battle over Uber coming to Upstate New York, an advocacy group is sending out letters to local leaders about Uber’s lack of wheelchair-accessible cars.

Leaders with the United Spinal Association claim Uber, the global ride-sharing service is failing a huge number of New Yorkers, people who need a wheelchair.

The organization fought for 19 years to get half of New York City’s taxi’s wheelchair accessible, now they think Uber is destroying that business.

Jim Weisman the organization CEO sent a letter to Buffalo leaders including Empire State Development’s Howard Zemsky, asking them to not support the Uber expansion. The city regulates one industry and not the other. He wants the state to mandate the business be regulated here in Upstate New York.

Weisman said, “If the state would say now, “Uber you’re welcome to come here provided some accessible services to the community, they would do it to get the business.”

He says if the state lets them operate here without mandating wheelchair accessibility Uber would eventually ask the state to pay for them to do just that.

Weisman said, “I think you’re bringing in a new transportation entity to your community, and you can shape it, and mold it and make it serve everybody, and not just people who can walk and that will reduce our dependence on government and make people mobile,.”

We reached out to Howard Zemsky who says Uber would only expand the economic opportunity here in Western New York. He said the service allows people who can’t afford cars or prefer not to drive get to work. He also says Buffalo has worked hard to create an environment that is attractive to young people, and being the only major top 50 city that doesn’t have a ride sharing service is inconsistent with the city’s growth.

He says finding the right balance to make sure Uber has wheelchair accessibility, like through the Uber-wave service, is ideal.

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