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Ithaca Carshare says permanent shutdown possible if Hochul doesn’t act

Ithaca Carshare may start shutting down permanently later this month if Gov. Kathy Hochul doesn't sign legislation needed to save the non-profit.
Ithaca Carshare
Ithaca Carshare may start shutting down permanently if Gov. Kathy Hochul doesn't sign legislation needed to save the non-profit.

Ithaca Carshare could begin shutting down permanently if Gov. Kathy Hochul doesn’t sign legislation before the end of the month, its management said.

The non-profit, which connects users with a group of shared vehicles, has been on pause while legislators push the governor to sign a bill loosening a rule that prevents the car share from securing auto insurance.

"We need the governor to sign it today,” state Senator Lea Webb, the bill’s sponsor, told WSKG News.

Currently, insurance providers in New York are not allowed to provide auto insurance through risk retention groups if they are based out-of state. Risk retention groups are how many car shares in other states are insured. Earlier this year, the last remaining New York-based insurance company offering risk retention groups pulled out, leaving Ithaca Carshare uninsured and unable to operate.

Webb’s legislation, which is sponsored by Assemblymember Anna Kelles in the state Assembly, would allow nonprofits to secure auto insurance from risk retention groups based in other states.

The bill passed through the legislature in June. Ithaca Carshare Director Liz Field said the organization is running out of time.

"I mean, we've been existing with staff furloughed and we're running out of money. We don't have any operating revenue coming in, so our budget can carry us for a little while longer,” Field said.

The car share may have to start selling off its 30-vehicle fleet by the end of the month, Field said.

“Governor Hochul will review this legislation,” John Lindsay, a spokesperson for the governor, wrote in a statement to WSKG.

As it’s written, the bill wouldn’t go into effect for six months. The DMV asked for that window in order to update its systems.

Webb said those looking to keep the car share alive should reach out to the governor.

"Reach out to the governor's office via email, phone call, and express your support for myself and Assemblymember Kelles' bill,” Webb said.

The legislation, Webb added, would also help remove barriers for other car shares or potential car shares from starting up in other cities around the state.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.