Items tagged with 'taxis'

CDTA's new fare smart cards are now available

CDTA Navigator card in hand

This Navigator card belongs to Albany Public Library executive director Scott Jarzombek. He was at today's public roll out of the new system because APL employees -- including himself -- were using the cards during a pilot test over the past year. (APL has a universal access agreement with CDTA for employees to ride the bus.)

CDTA opened its new Navigator fare card to the general public Thursday. The new system includes a bunch of potential benefits for riders as well as the transit org -- and it opens some interesting possibilities for transportation in the Capital Region that extend beyond the bus (hello, taxis).

"It makes everything quicker, everything more convenient," CDTA CEO Carm Basile said Thursday. "But most importantly, the customer manages their own account. They do what they want to do when they want to do it and how they want do it."

Here's a quick overview, along with a few bits about the upcoming bike share and a common taxi system for the Capital Region.

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CDTA wants to know what you think about taxi service in this area

CDTA taxi survey screengrabCDTA has posted an online survey looking for feedback and ideas about taxi service in the Capital Region. Blurbage:

The questionnaire offers an opportunity for riders to provide comments on previous experiences and what they would like to see moving forward to enhance their taxi experience.
"We see this as a chance to receive feedback on what people want to see from this industry moving forward," said CDTA Chief Executive Officer Carm Basile. We are excited to enhance the menu of mobility options across the Capital Region."
In addition to the customer questionnaire and common ordinance, CDTA will focus on adding other customer support systems, including a new web page with detailed information about local taxi services and the integration of its call center for taxi services.

We skimmed through the survey and we're guessing it would probably take most people no more than five minutes to complete.

But, you might be thinking, CDTA is the bus org -- why is it focused on taxis?

Because it's also now in position to create a regional taxi system for the Capital Region thanks to a new law that passed during the last state legislative session. The legislation allows local municipalities to opt-in to a setup in which CDTA would serve as an administrator for taxi (and taxi driver) licensing and a common complaint system. The idea is to create common standards across municipalities for taxi companies, drivers, and riders.

Or, to boil it way down, the goal is to create a common taxi system here that's less confusing and doesn't routinely disappoint people.

So this survey is one way to speak up about what you'd like to see. If past surveys are any indication, people have a lot to say about taxi service in this area.

New York State could be closer to allowing Uber and Lyft to operate here. Maybe. Sort of.

uber app sample screenshots

Sample screenshots from the Uber app.

It's been more than two years since a local campaign started to get "ride sharing" services such as Uber and Lyft to come to the Capital Region. And, as it turned out, a big obstacle to those services operating here and in other non-NYC parts of the state is the way New York's laws are configured.

But now the state legislature is on the verge of removing that obstacle. Probably. Maybe.

Here's the situation -- and a glimpse at one possible related future.

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Discussions about the sharing economy at Albany Law

albany law school exteriorThis might be a bit wonkish*, but it's a topic that a lot of people here are interested in: Albany Law is hosting an event next Tuesday, April 19 about regulating sharing-economy services such as Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB.

The event includes a series of talks and discussions about various topics. Here's the lineup for an afternoon panel discussion at 1 pm about "ride sharing and the future of transportation":

Moderator: Dean Antony Haynes
John T. McDonald III, NYS Assemblymember
Josh Gold​, Esq., Senior Policy and Research Associate, Uber
Peter Mazer, Esq., General Counsel, Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade
Bhairavi Desai, Executive Director, New York Taxi Workers Alliance

As you might remember, taxi-app services such as Uber don't currently operate in New York State outside of NYC because of the way state law is currently structured. There's been a push to change that, though publicly at least, it appears the effort has recently been in the slow lane because of the budget.

"Law and The Sharing Economy: How to Regulate Collaborative Consumption" is Tuesday, April 19 with events from 12:30 pm through 6 pm. It's free and open to the public. It's a presentation of the Albany Law Journal of Science and Technology and The Government Law Center.

*Not necessarily a bad thing.

Earlier on AOA: A few more thoughts about the push for Uber, Lyft, and similar services upstate

"The cab driver was eating an entire plate of take-out food while driving. I'm not kidding."

ACCVB taxi experience survey results

The graph and table are clipped from the report, as is the quote in the headline.

A quick addition to the conversation earlier this week about local taxi service and the push for services such as Uber and Lyft... Here's the final report from the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau's Taxi Experience Survey that started last fall -- it's embedded in full after the jump.

Given all that people have said so far on the issue, the results aren't surprising. (That graph/table above is clipped from the report.) And some of the individual comments and anecdotes shared highlight the deep dissatisfaction many people have with local taxi service -- about the condition of the cabs, about customer service, about even just understanding what the fare is going to be. Though the results also include some praise for local companies. The ACCVB says it collected more than 377 responses to the survey.

Of course, there's going to be a self-selection issue with the results. If you had a bad taxi experience, you're probably more likely to look for an outlet to complain. But even so, that these sorts of complaints are a recurring theme points to the need for a shake up in the current situation.

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A few more thoughts about the push for Uber, Lyft, and similar services upstate

uber app sample screenshots

Sample screenshots from the Uber app.

The ongoing campaign to open the way for taxi-app services such as Uber and Lyft to operate in Upstate New York got another push this week when Uber publicly backed the campaign at the Capitol, framing it in part as a jobs and economic development issue. [NYT]

A bill that addresses insurance and regulatory issues for these sorts of "transportation network" companies has been floating around the state legislature since last session. Lyft has been pushing for legislation like this since at least this past spring. And this past summer Andrew Cuomo made comments that sounded like he supported some sort of statewide regulation. [NYS Senate] [NY Observer]

We touched on the taxi service/Uber/Lyft situation a bunch of times already. So here are a few more bits and thoughts prompted by Uber's actions this week...

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Alongside the push for Uber

uber app screenshots

Screenshots from the Uber app.

The open letter that Matt Baumgartner and Vic Christopher released Tuesday calling on local mayors to help bring Uber to the Capital Region has been getting a lot of attention in the local media. And that makes sense. Baumgartner and Christopher are both prominent local business figures, and it's no secret there is ample frustration with local taxi services.

But the taxi issue in the Capital Region has been simmering for a while (Baumgartner and Christopher first reached out to Uber more than a year ago.) And there are a handful of important to angles to keep in mind...

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A Lyft for Albany?

lyft app screenshots

Screenshots from the Lyft app. / images: Lyft

Officials from the taxi-app company Lyft were in Albany recently to meet with city officials.

Matthew Peter, chief of staff for Albany mayor Kathy Sheehan, told us this week that representatives from Lyft had been in for a meeting "about two weeks ago." Peter described the meeting as a "very generic introduction" and said Lyft was currently in the process of introducing itself to cities. He said the Sheehan administration is looking into the topic and doesn't have a position on it.

"We're talking to cities across the state to see if there's a need for increasing safe and affordable transportation options," Lyft spokesperson Chelsea Wilson said to AOA this week when we asked about the meeting. "And we've heard that people want options like Lyft."

Lyft -- and competitors such as Uber -- have become key players in the taxi ride market in many cities around the country, all while pushing against what the companies say is outdated regulation and critics charge they're using unfair advantages.

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Surveying Albany taxi experiences

albany cvb taxi service survey

A screengrab from the survey.

Updated at 2:24 pm

The Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau is aiming to start a conversation about tax service in the Albany area via a new online survey collection taxi customer experiences.

As Schuyler Bull, the Albany CVB's director of marketing, said to us: "It's a large conversation to be had."

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The Scoop

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