Uber, Lyft in Minneapolis: City Council members vote to delay ordinance to July 1

The Minneapolis City Council met on Thursday to discuss pushing back the rideshare ordinance that has Uber and Lyft threatening to leave the city in May. 

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to delay the ordinance's effective date from May 1 to July 1 to give more time for new ride-hailing apps to enter the market and work with state legislatures for other possible solutions.

Uber and Lyft have threatened to stop operating in Minneapolis once the ordinance for new wages goes into effect. The issue stems from the Minneapolis City Council overriding Mayor Jacob Frey’s veto in March for an ordinance to raise the minimum wage for ride-hailing drivers, who would make $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute, which was initially slated to start on May 1. 

And while a state report found Uber and Lyft drivers were underpaid, the authors recommended wages of 89 cents per mile and about 49 cents per minute for drivers. 

During Thursday's meeting, council member Linea Palmisano moved to rescind the rideshare ordinance altogether, but it was turned down on a 10-3 vote.

The new implementation date will be sent to Mayor Frey for consideration.

Council members on delay

While the council agreed to push back the date for the ordinance to take effect, discussions are still ongoing for drivers' wages.

"This extension is reasonable. We are trying to work with the state, trying to get to a solution. We are committed to you; we will continue to commit to you, to get a fair wage like everyone else," said Minneapolis City Council Member Jamal Osman.

"We are getting closer and closer to having one shared understanding and one shared wage that works both between the state and the city," added Council Member Aisha Chughtai.

The council also noted the extension would give emerging ride-hailing companies additional time to initiate their operations in the city.

Council Member Robin Wonsley emphasized the potential for reform. "Also lay a stronger foundation for a Minnesota rideshare industry that is more equitable instead of extremely exploitive which it is now."

Despite the council's efforts, some members expressed concerns. Council Member Linea Palmisano advocated for scrapping the ordinance altogether, citing widespread disapproval: "This rideshare ordinance started with the good intent to ensure every rideshare driver earned minimum wage. But it is now so tainted with negative public opinion and outcry that I find it unsalvageable."

LaTrisha Vetaw, another council member, highlighted the anxiety and uncertainty among her constituents over job security and access to essential services.

A vote to rescind the ordinance did not pass. Some rideshare drivers looking forward to the wage increase support the council's direction. "We are open to compromise, we are open to negotiation, and I see today city council, we are heading in that direction," a driver named Yussef stated.

However, drivers like Mike Daddario and Maureen Marrin argued against the council's intervention in platforms like Uber and Lyft, where they claim to earn significantly above the minimum wage. "So if you’re not out there hustling, you’re not making money. You have to drive. If you’re sitting at the airport, you’re not making money," Daddario shared.

Marrin expressed her bewilderment at the notion that drivers cannot make a minimum wage, "I am perplexed, quite frankly, I’m perplexed why people say they can’t make minimum wage."

Statement from Lyft

"We are encouraged the Council is recognizing the flaws in their incredibly damaging ordinance. Given their actions today, we too will extend our services through to the new effective date of July 1. 

"However, the fundamental facts remain the same: this ordinance will make rides too expensive for most riders, meaning drivers will ultimately earn less. This is unsustainable for our customers and would force us to shut down operations in Minneapolis when the ordinance does inevitably take effect. That's why, as a compromise, Lyft is willing to support the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry study’s recommended $.89 per mile and $.487 per minute rates, which would increase current driver earnings by 17% while allowing us to continue to operate within the city. This is the way we can balance the needs of riders, drivers and our community as a whole."