Today City Council passed the state’s first regulatory framework for app-based ride services like UberX and Lyft, which are called Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) by the city.
The new tech companies allow anyone with a smart phone and a credit card to order a ride through an app on their phone. UberX and Lyft both started operating unregulated in Minneapolis this winter, and since then city staff has been rushing to put together rules to govern the new industry.
The ordinance legalizing TNCs was paired with an number of deregulatory measures for the taxi industry to help soothe its concerns.
Taxi companies still say the new regulations create an uneven playing field, and that the new companies should be regulated under the same set of rules that they have to follow. Critics of the ordinance also brought up concerns about the ability to continue to provide service for disabled residents, the viability of the commercial insurance provided by TNCs and the prospect of discrimination by TNC drivers who may choose to decline passengers or not make runs to certain parts of town.
Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey, who sponsored the ordinance, said he was confident those concerns were addressed in the new regulations. He reminded other city council members that they have the ability to audit TNCs and make any needed adjustments in the future.
The ordinance passed 12-1, with Ward 5 City Council Member Blong Yang casted the sole ‘nay’ vote.