Businesses, rideshare drivers look to the future as Uber, Lyft plan to pull out of Minneapolis

Minneapolis City Council overrides mayor’s veto of rideshare driver pay ordinance

Minneapolis City Council overrides mayor’s veto of rideshare driver pay ordinance

Wheels of change are now set in motion for the future of ridesharing in Minneapolis.

As reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Thursday, the City Council overrode Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto of an ordinance setting minimum pay requirements for rideshare drivers.

“Getting the fair pay and safe work, that’s what we’ve been asking for,” declared Said Mohamed, a rideshare driver for three years. “It’s going on all around the country, not just Minneapolis.”

The ordinance requires rideshare companies to pay drivers a wage of at least $1.40 per mile, and 51-cents per minute on rides to, from, and through city limits.

Council members who supported the measure say the increase would increase rideshare driver pay to the city’s minimum wage of more than $15.50 an hour.

But what happens next?

“Uber and Lyft have been clear. They’re going to pull out all their operations,” says Adam Duininck, President & CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “It has a potential for a huge disruption. There’s no company that’s ready to step in and do what Uber and Lyft does. They’re not prepared to do that today.”

Uber says when the ordinance takes effect May 1st, it will stop operating in the entire metro, including the airport.

Lyft says it will pull out the same date in Minneapolis.

Rideshare companies aren’t mincing words about the Council vote.

Uber released a statement which said in part, “we are disappointed the Council chose to ignore the data and kick Uber out of the Twin Cities, putting 10,000 people out of work and leaving many stranded.”

The rideshare companies say they hope state lawmakers can address the pay issue, including discussing the idea of a state pay rate.

Meanwhile, Frey told reporters that customers should brace for changes.

“We need to prepare,” he told reporters. “People that use rideshare service need to be prepared; drivers that are employed through rideshare need to be prepared. This is not just about Minneapolis. I think there are repercussions to the entire region.”

Some in the business community wonder how people will get around, with big summer events like Red, White, and Boom, a Taste of Minnesota, and the Basilica Block Party, right around the corner.

“It’s going to have a huge impact at a time like this,” Duininck explains. “We need to be thinking about more ways to get people downtown and around the city, not less.”

Jase Santiago, the assistant manager at 801 Fish Restaurant, says he’s concerned about safe travel for his late-shift workers.  

“If they’re planning to exit the city then, how are our employees supposed to get home on late evenings and such,” he says. “People are going to have to depend on either (public transit) or getting together with other people to share rides.”

Ridesharing has had a huge impact on the taxi business locally.

City records show currently, there are 39 licensed taxicab drivers in Minneapolis, compared to 1,948 just ten years ago.

Taxicab driver Jose Illisaca, working near Nicollet Mall Thursday afternoon, says he’s hoping for relief.

He says rideshare competition is forcing him to work seven days a week.

“Uber and Lyft killed the business of taxis,” he notes. “I’m working for like 12-14 hours a day, because Uber takes all my fares.”  

But at the rideshare lot at MSP, packed with hundreds of vehicles waiting for customer calls, drivers say they have no intention of going anywhere.

“There’s other companies that are out there, willing to take over,” says Said Mohamed, who’s driven for Uber and Lyft for the past three years. “Multiple drivers here have already downloaded the app of other companies.”

He says he and others are already getting offers from other rideshare services willing to come to Minneapolis. Here, there is no love lost for either Uber or Lyft.

“So, if they leave, we don’t mind. There’s always jobs there,” explains Ahmed Ahmed, a rideshare driver for eight years. “But they’re going to miss us because they only run the app. We do the dirty work. We own the car, we pay gas, we put a lot of miles on the cars. We are the ones moving the city forward.”