- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minneapolis is among cities nationwide deciding how best to regulate app-based rideshare companies that connect drivers to passengers.

A hearing at Minneapolis City Hall Tuesday drew a large crowd. Taxi industry representatives argue that companies such as Uber and Lyft should be subject to the same regulations. But the smartphone-based companies say their services are unique. Their chauffeurs use their personal vehicles to transport customers and allow both the user and the provider to rate the experience.

“I have now built relationships with many of the drivers in the Lyft community,” said Lyft customer Jesson Hunt. “I know them, they know me. I know their back story, they know mine.”

Minneapolis is considering legalizing Lyft and Uber as transportation network companies, according to the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1fPNiJV ). The city would regulate their insurance and require their cars to be inspected, but only taxicabs could accept passengers that hail vehicles on the street. Rides with Uber and Lyft would have to be prearranged.


Taxi industry’s lobbyists said their drivers can only charge the city-regulated meter rate, while Lyft and Uber could charge more during peak hours. The lobbyists also all drivers should be subject to a city background check.

“They’re cabdrivers,” Zach Williams, owner of Rainbow Taxi, told the committee. “We need one ordinance for all of this transportation because we’re the exact same business.”

In Madison, Wis., police fined two drivers from Uber and Lyft more than $1,300 for violating Madison’s taxi ordinances. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said the ridesharing companies amount to unlicensed taxi cabs.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com