Mpls City Council approves Lyft/UberX regulations; Blong Yang casts sole nay vote
Lyft and its mustachioed cars are now legit in Minneapolis.
This morning, the Minneapolis City Council approved an ordinance regulating so-called Transportation Network Companies like Lyft and UberX .
Council also approved changes to the city's taxi ordinance that deregulate cab companies to an extent in hopes they'll be able to compete with the new TNCs.
The measures approved today were largely the same as what council's Community Development & Regulatory Services Committee discussed earlier this month. They had council's broad support -- the only nay vote was cast by first-term Council Member Blong Yang, who represents a part of north Minneapolis.
Yang expressed concern about taxis not being able to fluctuate their fares, which is something TNCs can do by charging "peak prices" during evenings, for instance. He also said he doesn't think it's fair that "the aggregate industry license fees [are] at least twice as much [for taxis] as the $70,000 for the two TNCs."
Finally, Yang said he's concerned that TNCs "have a license to discriminate" since they can see a customer's Facebook photo before picking them up.
"They rate customers," Yang said. "That sounds good in theory but in practice it may turn out to be a form of redlining."
But Yang's concern about possible discrimination was downplayed by Council Member Abdi Warsame, author of the taxi ordinance revisions, who echoed what Council Member Jacob Frey said at the aforementioned committee hearing by pointing out the city "already has discrimination" with taxi companies that won't pick up people in certain parts of town.
"This is a new model, and what we're facing is resistance to change," Warsame said.
Council Member Lisa Goodman compared the controversy surrounding TNC regulations to what the city went through a few years ago when deciding how to deal with food trucks.
"If it was our job to protect the status quo, we would not have food trucks today," Goodman said. "All of the drama [from restaurants] about, 'We're not being treated equally, they're not paying property taxes'... [We said] we're not going to treat them equally, they are something completely different."
"We're going to regulate them, as we are with Lyft, charge them a fee, as we are with Lyft, and we're going to let them operate," she continued. "And in the end, the world did not come to an end."
St. Paul officials say the city plans to take a similar approach to regulating TNCs.
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