Editorial: Uber will be a welcome addition to North Fork

Ride-hailing services like Uber have become ubiquitous in metropolitan areas and have quickly become a preferred method of transportation for millennials and older generations alike.

For starters, it’s easy.

For both drivers and passengers, the service runs through a smartphone app. Passengers requesting a ride can pinpoint how long it will take for a driver to reach them. A fare estimate allows the passenger to preview the cost of the trip. And payment is processed through the app, so there’s no need to exchange cash (a cash option is allowed in some cities).

As part of the 2017-18 New York State budget passed earlier this month, companies like Uber are set to be regulated through the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will allow them to expand beyond New York City. This raises the question:

How will Uber and similar services like Lyft be implemented on the North Fork?

In interviews with The Suffolk Times this week, officials in Southold Town and Greenport Village expressed optimism that the services could be of benefit. Supervisor Scott Russell noted that public transportation is minimal. After all, people who visit the North Fork for a weekend of wine tasting are unlikely to travel from vineyard to vineyard on a Suffolk County transit bus. The Long Island Rail Road is a viable way to reach the North Fork, but not to navigate after arriving.

The North Fork appears a prime spot for services like Uber to thrive outside of a metropolitan area. When it becomes available to local drivers — this summer at the earliest — tourists and residents can spend a night out with the comfort of knowing a ride home is only a few clicks away. Any effort to curb drunken driving is a plus, and we can hope a service like Uber will encourage more people to act responsibly.

The service offers a benefit beyond just a designated driver after a night of indulging. Need a ride to the airport early in the morning? Pull out your cellphone. Want to earn a few extra dollars on the weekend? Sign up to be a driver — but be sure to do your research first to make sure the job is right for you. In Greenport Village, the service could also help alleviate traffic congestion and growing demand for parking.

The DMV must still establish rules for requirements such as background checks and signage needed on cars, but once ride-hailing service becomes available full time, it’ll be a welcome addition to the North Fork.