Business and community leaders in Minneapolis urge council to rethink rideshare ordinance

Business and community leaders in Minneapolis urge council to rethink rideshare ordinance

Business and community leaders in Minneapolis urge council to rethink rideshare ordinance

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, leaders from the hospitality industry and elderly and disability advocates spoke about the impact of Uber and Lyft potentially leaving the area on Monday.

The rideshare companies say they will pull out May 1 after the City Council passed a new pay ordinance that would give drives a raise. However, city leaders will consider revising the ordinance during the Minneapolis City Council meeting on Thursday.

Standing front and center, Corbb O’Connor, the director of Accessibility Advocacy, tells a personal story of how vital Uber and Lyft are on the daily.

“For me as a blind person, I can get around without public transit without Uber and Lyft, but it’s not always the most convenient,” said O’Connor. “When I have a doctor’s appointment for myself at 11 a.m. in Burnsville, and my son has one at 1 p.m. in downtown Minneapolis, that’s easy to do with Uber and Lyft. It meant that I didn’t have to take an entire day off work for those appointments.”

Angie Whitcomb, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, says they represent 180,000 employees in the metro and 40% of those workers rely on rideshare services to get them to and from their jobs.

“If rideshare as we know it ceases to exist in Minneapolis on May 1, it will leave a significant portion of our workforce without affordable, safe, reliable transportation as a commute to and from work at all hours of the day. In addition, it will leave business leaders with an even tighter worker shortage than they are already facing,” said Whitcomb.

“The elderly are especially at risk of isolation and loneliness. Transportation networks are one way that elders can participate in society and keep their social muscles from atrophying and so what I’m hearing them in conversation, of course, is a lot of fear,” said Angelique Kingsbury, chair of the Minneapolis Advisory Committee on Aging.

With tens of thousands of people already planning to visit Minneapolis this year, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce Jonathan Weinhagen noted, “it’s not a great look for our city.”

Business leaders believe city council members should have waited for a 70-page state study before voting on the new rideshare ordinance.

“All the restaurants down here are going to be opening up their patios. Soon it will be time for Vikings football. All of this is going to be impacted,” said Paul Ohm, general manager of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.

The state analysis determined drivers earn well below the minimum wage of $15.57 per hour, however, before expenses, drivers are paid well above the minimum wage.

The study suggests drivers get paid $0.89 per mile and $.0.49 per minute. That’s lower than the city’s requirement of $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute.

As Uber and Lyft prepare to end operations in the city, Frey hopes council members will consider state data.

“A wage bump doesn’t do any good if you don’t have a job anymore,” Frey said. “We’re urging them to change the policy so that we can keep this important transportation option in our city.”