City legalizes operation of transportation network companies in Minneapolis

With the emergence of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, the City Council today adopted new ordinances to legalize their operations in Minneapolis and make it possible for the City to license and regulate this industry. Also today, the City Council voted to modernize the City’s longstanding taxi ordinances to make them less restrictive to companies while still maintaining safety for passengers.

“Once again, our city is on the front line in the move for progress, “said Council Member Jacob Frey, the author of the City’s transportation network companies ordinance. “Our goal when we began drafting this ordinance many months ago was to be the first city to do this properly -- one, by ensuring safety, and two, by allowing an alternative transportation model to operate and thrive. We as a city cannot shut our doors on innovation simply because it’s new and different. While there may very well be need for amendment as the industry evolves, we are setting a strong foundation with this ordinance. I’m grateful for all the work by city staff, Council Member Warsame and stakeholders from both the transportation network companies and taxi industries.

“Our ordinances for taxi companies have been in place since the early 1980s,” said Council Member Abdi Warsame, who authored the major changes to the City’s taxi ordinances. “We needed to update these to keep pace with the times. These changes also make sure that many of our taxi company requirements will also be required of the transportation network companies as well, making it a fairer playing field.”

“It’s important for us to be able to regulate these companies,” said Mayor Betsy Hodges. “Whether our residents and visitors are using a taxi or a transportation network company, they should have the same level of safety. As with any innovative new business model, it will be important to continue monitoring how the system is working to ensure safety and fairness."

The main provisions of the transportation network company ordinances are:

Under the ordinances, licensing fees would be collected from the transportation network companies to cover the costs of regulation, such as an additional licensing inspector. Vehicles would be inspected the same way as they are for taxi companies and they would also have to follow the same guidelines. There would also be the same driver background check requirements for transportation network company drivers and taxi drivers. In addition, a new surcharge will be paid by transportation network companies and taxi companies that will be used to provide incentives to licensed para-transit providers for wheelchair and other accessible transportation.

Published Jul 18, 2014