Here's what we know about Uber and Lyft's planned departure from Minneapolis in May

Minneapolis — The future of Uber and Lyft in Minneapolis has drawn concern and debate in recent weeks, with the City Council last month voting to require drivers to pay more when they are within city limits.

Uber and Lyft responded by saying they would stop serving the Minneapolis area effective May 1 as the city weighs the mandate. The government may also take action, while riders and drivers wonder what might come next.

Here's what we know so far:

The Minneapolis City Council last month overrode a mayoral veto and passed an ordinance requiring ride-hailing companies to pay drivers at least $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute — or $5 per ride — excluding tips. Spent ferrying passengers to Minneapolis.

Supporters of the ordinance said the rate would ensure companies pay drivers the equivalent of the city's minimum wage of $15.57.

Councilman Jamal Osman, co-author of the commission, said in a statement: “Drivers are human beings with families who, like all other workers, deserve a decent minimum wage. … The Minneapolis City Council will not allow the East African community, or any community, to be exploited for cheap labor.”

Many East African immigrants in the Minneapolis area work as Uber and Lyft drivers and advocated for a fare increase.

However, a recent study commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries found that a lower rate of $0.89 per mile and $0.49 per minute would meet the goal of $15.57 per hour.

Uber and Lyft said they could support the rate from the state's study. But the companies said they will exit the market on May 1 if higher fees from the Minneapolis ordinance go into effect.

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Josh Gold, an Uber spokesman, said the company plans to end operations in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the Twin Cities metro area — including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The metro area has more than 3 million people, which is more than half of the state's population.

Lyft spokesman CJ Macklin said Lyft will end operations only in Minneapolis. Elevators will still serve the airport, but will not be able to pick up or drop off passengers anywhere in Minneapolis.

The two companies previously pulled out of Austin, Texas in 2016, when the city pushed for fingerprint-based background checks on drivers as a rider safety measure. The companies returned after the Texas Legislature passed a law that overruled local action and enforced different rules statewide.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walls, a Democrat, said he was “deeply concerned” about the possibility of Uber and Lyft leaving the Minneapolis area.

Walls said the move will have a statewide impact and affect everyone who relies on the service, including people with disabilities, students and others trying to get home safely from bars.

State legislatures may pass legislation that overrides local law. But Walls said the most efficient solution is to ask the Minneapolis City Council to compromise.

Minneapolis City Council members can vote to change the ordinance, repeal it entirely or leave it in place.

Council member Linea Palmisano said she plans to continue voting against it unless it is changed. Palmisano said he received opposition from many community members, including students, part-time and low-income workers, hospitals and others.

Palmisano said he's also heard from drivers who disagree and are “now at risk of losing their livelihood.”

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Council member Robin Wonsley, lead author of the ordinance, said the ordinance's rate was “the right thing to do.”

“For too long, this industry has exploited workers of color and immigrant workers for cheap labor. We have an opportunity and a responsibility to create a rideshare industry based on poverty wages and exploitation,” he said.

Residents of the Twin Cities metro area are divided — some support the ordinance because it would help marginalized workers, while others oppose it because they don't want Uber and Lyft to leave.

Marianna Brown, an Uber driver in her 60s who lives in a suburb of Minneapolis, supports the law and says she's not concerned that other ride-hailing companies — and even a local driver-owned co-op — are planning to enter the Minneapolis market. . Brown, a Jamaican immigrant, said drivers have long been abused by Uber and Lyft.

Ariana Feldman, 31, of Minneapolis, said she supports the ordinance and has taken 2,000 rides on Lyft because she doesn't drive, has health issues and lacks access to reliable public transportation.

“I think it's a shame that these multi-million dollar companies are holding us hostage like this, punishing communities for demanding the most basic right to proper compensation,” he said.

Jake Clark, 44, of St. Paul, an Uber and Lyft driver, also opposes the ordinance. Clark said he never made less than $25 an hour and made as much as $75 an hour.

Michael Sack, 34, of Minneapolis, also opposes the law. He serves on the Minneapolis Advisory Board for People with Cerebral Palsy and Disabilities. He urged the city council and state legislature to find a way to increase drivers' wages while keeping ride-hailing services affordable.

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“Decreasing the cost of rides is critical because low-income people, most people with disabilities use Uber and Lyft,” he said.


Trisha Ahmed is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on issues covered. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15

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