St. Paul also plans to regulate Lyft, UberX

Lyft pic via Alfredo Mendez; St. Paul pic via Meghan Newell
So-called "TNCs" like Lyft currently operate without regulations in St. Paul and Minneapolis.
As Minneapolis officials ready a new "transportation network company" ordinance that will regulate cutting-edge taxi-style services like Lyft and UberX for City Council consideration (more on that in coming days), Ricardo Cervantes, St. Paul's director of the Department of Safety and Inspections, tells us his city will soon follow suit.

"We are interested in regulating the TNC companies, and just for your information, we've been working with Minneapolis and with the Metropolitan Airports Commission in regard to the language," Cervantes says. "We're looking at the language Minneapolis is currently proposing, and so we've kinda been walking this walk, doing best practices studies, looking at other cities and seeing how they're regulating TNCs, both for the protection of passengers and drivers."

See also:
St. Paul streetcar: Council member would rather give each business $1 million than build line

"The idea is to have some consistency in laws regarding transportation companies and taxi cabs," Cervantes adds, referring to the city's work with Minneapolis and MAC.

Lyft first opened for business in St. Paul last summer, months before the service rolled out in Minneapolis. The reason? St. Paul's taxi ordinance is less restrictive than Minneapolis, so the company faced less regulatory hurdles east of the river.

But that state of affairs won't last forever, according to Cervantes.

"We have an industry out there that's providing a service, and after understanding how they operate -- that they are a commercial enterprise with for-profit for-hire vehicles, and all other for-profit vehicles are regulated to some extent -- once we recognized that they are indeed a business and should have commercial insurance, it began clear there should be regulations," Cervantes says.

In Minneapolis, the new TNC ordinance will be accompanied by changes to the city's taxi ordinance. Those changes aim to deregulate the industry in certain respects in hopes traditional cabs can compete with the newfangled TNCs. But in St. Paul, there aren't any plans to alter the city's taxi ordinance, at least for now.

"I don't think we've reached that level of discussion with the cab companies, nor vehicle owners here," Cervantes says. (It should be noted that St. Paul, unlike Minneapolis, doesn't regulate cab companies -- the city only regulates vehicles and cab drivers.)

"We would like to engage [cabbies] in conversation to see which, if any, ordinances they [support changing]," he continues. "In Minneapolis, as well as MAC, there was concern that there could be an unfair advantage to TNCs. Taxi cabs are regulated much more vigorously and so that is something we acknowledge, but we haven't gotten to the fine points of which points they would be looking for us to change."

As for the sorts of TNC regulations St. Paul city officials are considering, Cervantes mentions both requiring TNC companies to have commercial insurance policies and to register drivers and cars with the city.

(For more, click to page two.)

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Mary Aho
Mary Aho

Deregulate the entire industry. It will be better for consumers.

Eddie Phillips
Eddie Phillips

Engage cabbies in a discussion? Most can't speak English let alone navigate the town!

Chris Welton
Chris Welton

These companies were created so you "didn't have to deal with the 'usual' cabbie" it's borderline unspoken racism.

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

Yes, crush others ability to prosper in this down economy. Got to love the restrictive liberal left.

digitalprotocol topcommenter

fuck ride sharing. this is america, land of the personal automobile

Erick Thomas
Erick Thomas

This is fucking awful. What makes Uber so amazing is that it's not regulated like a fucking taxi.

Matt Touchette
Matt Touchette

@atrupar, you might want to fix the error in your article. Uber is already regulated under the taxi/limo laws, UberX is the "ride-sharing"/taxi-style service.

Sheldon Casper
Sheldon Casper

Hopefully they will obey traffic laws unlike bikes and taxis

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