Lyft threatens to pull out of Minneapolis at end of year over ordinance

In a message to its customers, Lyft says the company’s future in Minneapolis is in limbo, because of a proposed city ordinance; writing:

"The Minneapolis City Council recently proposed a new rideshare ordinance with potentially unsafe and costly changes for riders and drivers. If it passes as written, Lyft will be forced to stop operating in Minneapolis on January 1, 2024. If it passes, rideshare prices could nearly double. While proponents claim the ordinance would increase driver earnings, drivers would in fact earn less due to fewer ride requests. Additionally, it could be harder to maintain platform safety. Under the ordinance, drivers would be allowed to keep driving for five days following a safety incident. These changes could make it impossible for Lyft to prioritize safety and operate an affordable platform in Minneapolis. To keep Lyft available in Minneapolis, tell the City Council to vote no on the rideshare ordinance."

However, speaking for more than 1,300 drivers demanding a raise up to $1.40 on the mile -- the president of the Minnesota Uber and Lyft Driver Association Eid Ali says drivers have been suffering for more than a decade under a company that puts its margin of profit over paying livable wages.

"We are asking to be fair for drivers, so they’re able to feed their family," Ali said.

"They should not be speaking for everybody because it’s not realistic," Jennifer S. said. She drives part-time on weekends and did not want to be identified because of her other work, but said she believes the current compensation is enough. 

"This is a job that people who come from other countries and have limited English and communication skills can do and make a livable wage to support their families. Why would you take that away from them?" Jennifer said.

Ward 2 City Council member Robin Wonsley sent FOX 9 this statement:

"Today Uber's corporate lobbyists began lobbying Council and the public to oppose the Fair Drives Safe Rides ordinance. These are the standard scare tactics that corporations use to resist regulation. There is no data behind them. In reality, Fair Drives Safe Rides simply helps guarantee that drivers earn minimum wage equivalents and have basic workers' rights. The ordinance would only be problematic for a company that relies on poverty wages and worker exploitation. I look forward to bringing Fair Drives Safe Rides to the floor for a vote on Thursday the 17th at 9:30 am."

The Office of Mayor Jacob Frey also weighed in:

"Mayor Frey supports drivers being paid more. How to get there is very complex and requires more information. This ordinance has moved through the legislative process with little deliberation, and there is essential information needed — including from TNCs — to make good, transparent policy decisions. The mayor will continue discussions with stakeholders before making a final decision."