CITY

Officials: Ride-hailing services have had a minimal effect on Syracuse traffic

Paul Schlesinger | Asst. Photo Editor

Tony Callisto, senior vice president and chief law enforcement officer for SU’s Division of Campus Safety, said Uber and Lyft have been sent information about how to operate near the Carrier Dome on game days.

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, recently introduced to Syracuse, have resulted in few traffic issues across the area, city officials said.

The transportation apps started operating in Syracuse this summer. Sgt. Richard Helterline, a Syracuse Police Department spokesman, said there has not been many traffic issues connected to the services.

“We haven’t seen a specific increase per se,” Helterline said.

Because the services are private businesses, Helterline said SPD has no way to track if car accidents are related to the companies.

Helterline also said SPD supports people using ride-hailing services to avoid driving drunk.

“If people take a few too many to drink and use (ride-hailing services), it’s definitely a safer option than getting behind the wheel,” Helterline said.

Currently, there is no specific parking spot near Armory Square for ride-hailing pedestrian pickups. Heterline said it would be up to city government officials to decide whether some parking should be phased out to make room for a pickup location.

Steven Thompson, an at-large Syracuse Common Councilor, said he has not heard of any negative issues due to ride-hailing services operating in Syracuse, except for some concerns raised by taxi drivers.

“They feel they’ve been muscled out a little bit,” Thompson said.

Common Council members have discussed how ride-hailing services could affect traffic near Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, Thompson said.

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Daily Orange File Photo

Thompson said when the services were first introduced in the area, an influx of vehicles hit Armory Square. The SPD has found ways for ride-hailing service vehicles to park in the area, he added.

The council member said a possible plan is to put up signage across the city so police can help determine who is a ride-hailing driver. Thompson said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration has been working with SPD on the issue.

“We’re waiting to see if they come back to us with other rules, laws, ordinances to facilitate that,” Thompson said. “That’s why they’ve been meeting to see if they need to make changes.”

Tony Callisto, senior vice president and chief law enforcement officer for SU’s Division of Campus Safety and Emergency Services, said the university has accounted for potential safety and traffic issues with Uber and Lyft operating near campus, especially on game days when there more traffic on the Hill.

He said SU sent the two companies’ information about how to operate near the Carrier Dome on game days. The first football game of the season last Friday did not create any traffic issues, he said.

“If we find any traffic parking issues, we’ll address them as they come up,” Callisto said.

Callisto said the Department of Public Safety has posted a list of safety tips on their website and traffic webpage that are specific to ride-hailing services.

“Smart people rely on their own intuition. If your intuition is telling you there’s something wrong with the situation, don’t ignore it. Deal with it,” Callisto said.

The reduction of cash exchanges between customers and drivers is one way Callisto said the services are an important option for consumers. It eliminates the need, in some cases, to have a wallet or purse out in a ride, he said.

Personally, Callisto said he found ride-hailing to be quicker than other forms of transportation available.

“It’s a good thing for students, a good option for students,” Callisto said. “With all those different (transportation) options, we’re already finding it’s a pretty good use of tools to keep students safer. It’s good for the Syracuse community.”

 

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