Mpls cab companies not thrilled about impending Lyft/UberX ordinance

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Frey on Lyft and UberX: "I think the taxi industry needed some competition."
This week, the Minneapolis City Council Transportation and Public Works Committee will get its first crack at the city's revised taxi regulations and its brand-new "Transportation Network Companies" ordinance. If they approve it, it'll head to the full council for consideration during next week's meeting.

But the author of the TNC ordinance, council member Jacob Frey, acknowledges that even as the city plans to get serious about regulating TNCs and deregulating cabs, "I don't know I can say [taxi companies] are on board with the ordinance at this point."

See also:
St. Paul also plans to regulate Lyft, UberX

"But I think we're making headway," Frey told us last week. "The goal was to create a regulatory framework that would allow TNCs to thrive, and then there were some pieces of the taxi ordinance that we're going to deregulate."

Among them, according to a draft of council member Abdi Warsame's revised taxi ordinance (read a draft of it here), are changes pertaining to the permissible age of cabs (the ordinance would allow cabs to be up to 10 years old, up from five), eliminating language that bars drivers from picking up additional passengers during a fare, broadening the number of facilities at which cabs can be inspected, and allowing cab drivers to use taxis as private vehicles.

But the Star Tribune's Eric Roper reports that the changes don't totally satisfy cab companies, who remain concerned about Lyft and UberX's flexible "surge pricing."

"The complete absence of the city's knowledge about or oversight on TNC fares raise serious concerns that the TNC model is quite simply one where technology is used to sell rides to the highest bidders, and to de facto refuse rides to lower-fare passengers," Noah Rouen, a spokesman for a coalition of taxi companies, wrote in an email to Roper.

Will cab companies' objections be enough to persuade council members to take another look at the taxi ordinance revisions/TNC regulations before approving them? We'll find out during this two-week cycle of city meetings.

To read a draft of Frey's TNC ordinance, click to page two.



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