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Minneapolis City Council delays rideshare minimum wage implementation to July 1

Uber, Lyft to leave Twin Cities later than expected
Uber, Lyft to leave Twin Cities later than expected 01:55

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis City Council on Thursday voted to delay implementation of a controversial ordinance establishing a minimum wage for rideshare drivers in the city.

The council unanimously adopted an amendment to the ordinance that delays its implementation to July 1. The ordinance, which requires a minimum wage of $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute, prompted Uber and Lyft to promise to pull their business from the city on May 1, when the ordinance was originally set to go into effect.

Multiple council members said the extension will allow the body to continue discussions about the ordinance, as well as monitor the Minnesota Legislature's efforts to set a statewide policy on rideshare wages. It will also allow new rideshare companies to get up and running in the city.

Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the ordinance upon its passage, but the council overrode his interdiction. 

The amended ordinance will now go to Frey's desk.

"A delay is not a fix," Frey said Thursday. "While Council continues to make a mess of this, I'll be working with policymakers and partners from across the disability, hospitality, and business communities to find a path forward for drivers and riders."

In response to the extension, Lyft said it would continue to operate in Minneapolis until 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," Lyft said in a statement. "This is unsustainable for our customers and would force us to shut down operations in Minneapolis when the ordinance does inevitably take effect."

Lyft reiterated its support for a minimum wage of 89 cents per mile and 49 cents per minute, which was put forth by a Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry study.

Uber has also said it will maintain operations through the new implementation date.

Rideshare driver Donald McRaven said he's fine with the delay if it means better pay.

"I don't have a problem with that," he said. "I got a commercial driver's license, too, so I could always go back to driving school buses, I have options."

Empowered, a company that allows drivers to decide their own rate, is among those interested in operating in Minneapolis.  Founder and CEO Joshua Sear said they could be up and running by "tomorrow."

"They've provided over 5 million rides in DC using the platform. There's nothing preventing that from scaling to the 400,000 or so rides a week that are demanded in the Twin Cities," Sear said.

No other amendments to the original ordinance were passed at Thursday's meeting.

Angie Whitcomb, the CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, says questions about the future of rideshare have been stressing out event planners.

"We're bringing 5,000, 10,000 people, we have to be able to get there," Whitcomb said. "So yeah, we're getting calls from meeting planners across the country, asking if this is really going to happen, or if it's just hyped up for the headlines."

Newly obtained documents show four companies have applied for licenses with the city: Joiryde, Moov, MyWeels and Wridz.
And more have expressed interest. 

"I've already signed up with three or four of them already. Yeah, I don't have a problem with that," Uber driver Donald McRaven said.

However, none of their applications have been approved yet, and it's unclear when or even if they will be.

"It's probably not going to happen fast enough for most of us. We need to be additive in our resources and our amenities," Whitcomb said. "We can come to a win-win-win. There is a path to that destination if everybody is willing to walk it. My fear is that yeah, we just kicked the can down the road."

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