UberX and Lyft are now authorized to operate in the city of Minneapolis after the City Council on Friday passed sweeping changes in how it will regulate and license the app-based ride sharing programs. The council also passed a measure that updates ordinances that govern how taxicabs operate in the city and make rules less restrictive.
Lyft and UberX, which offer prearranged rides and provided by chauffeurs who use their own vehicles, had been operating illegally in Minneapolis for the past couple months and jump started the discussions. The companies, called Transportation Network Companies, will now be regulated by city. They also will have to meet other regulations that traditional taxicab operators must follow.
“Once again, our city is on the front line in the move for progress, “said Council Member Jacob Frey, the author of the City’s transportation network companies (TNC) ordinance. “Our goal when we began drafting this ordinance many months ago was to be the first city to do this properly -- one, by ensuring safety, and two, by allowing an alternative transportation model to operate and thrive. We as a city cannot shut our doors on innovation simply because it’s new and different."
Under the ordinance, the TNC will be the license holder and any individual who registers to be a Lyft or UberX driver will not have get their own individual license. The City will inspect vehicles and drivers would have to undergo a background check.
The TNC's also would pay a fee to the city for inspection purposes, mainly to cover the costs of adding another inspector, the city said in a news release.
“It’s important for us to be able to regulate these companies,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges. “Whether our residents and visitors are using a taxi or a transportation network company, they should have the same level of safety. As with any innovative new business model, it will be important to continue monitoring how the system is working to ensure safety and fairness."
For more on the story see a blog post by my colleague Eric Roper who was at today's City Council meeting.