MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis City Council on Friday voted to legalize on-demand ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber, despite concerns from the taxi industry.
By a nearly unanimous vote, council members approved new ordinances to legalize so-called “transportation network companies.”
California-based Lyft and Uber essentially allow people to act as chauffeurs of their own vehicles, connecting with passengers through smartphone apps. They cannot pick up passengers who hail them on the street, but unlike taxi companies are free to raise rates.
Council member Jacob Frey, who sponsored the ordinance, said more transportation options will help people give up their cars.
“This ordinance takes some excellent steps towards adding to the cornucopia of transportation options that we have,” Frey said.
The new ordinance distinguishes the companies from taxicabs, creates a process for them to become licensed and specifies what insurance they must carry, the Star Tribune reported. Insurance is a particularly complicated issue for the services, since they typically use hybrid plans that complement a driver’s personal policy.
But taxi industry representatives weren’t happy with a two-tier fee structure that will charge major taxi companies significantly more than transportation network companies. Others have concerns that changes to the wheelchair-accessible vehicle requirements could backfire.
Council member Blong Yang cast the lone “no” vote. Yang said the proposal would mean “that the livery industry will be changed forever.”
Minneapolis follows California, Colorado, Seattle, Chicago and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in passing legislation to specifically regulate the services. St. Paul is crafting its own version of the regulations.