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Lariss Jude – 612-766-7352
April 21, 2014 The Coalition for Fair and Competitive Transportation, comprised of taxi drivers and locally owned businesses, opposes any Minneapolis City Ordinance which would give special treatment to transportation companies like UberX and Lyft, who have been openly operating illegally in Minneapolis since February. UberX and Lyft, based out of California and backed by big business investors, have been working to craft an ordinance that gives them special treatment. UberX and Lyft saw their wishes come true last Friday afternoon. City staff released a lengthy proposal that, on its face, regulates UberX and Lyft, but in reality carves UberX and Lyft out of obligations that all other vehicles regularly engaged in the business of carrying passengers for hire and regulated by the city must follow. This proposal weakens public safety, weakens our public transportation infrastructure, hurts local businesses, and hurts taxi drivers. Regulation of commercial transportation comes with costs: Minneapolis rightly requires driver third-party background checks and inspections, taxi vehicle and driver licensing, training courses for drivers, commercial insurance for each vehicle, and so on, which are all designed to ensure that public health, safety and welfare are guarded. The use of an app to dispatch transportation services is now ubiquitous in the taxi industry, and it should not be grounds for lesser regulation of commercial transportation. UberX and Lyft do offer something unique and very concerning for a healthy market - they offer a “Big Brother” model. They control data – both demand for rides and supply of drivers, and thus they can control the market, which flies squarely in the face of protecting consumers. UberX and Lyft use “surge” pricing, increasing prices based on data that only they have, to decide that there is more demand and therefore prices can increase. Contrast this with the city’s taxi cab rates, which are strictly regulated. Such a monopoly demands MORE, not less, regulation and protections for the public. Uber controls data on each of its drivers, giving it great and potentially abusive ability to harm any worker who challenges any aspect of Uber or UberX’s operations. This is a regressive model that threatens worker rights. Special treatment for UberX and Lyft gives special treatment to those who can afford a smart phone and have credit cards, fencing out many poor and working class people who need taxi service. This further weakens our taxi industry, which has operated and will continue to operate under rigorous city ordinances. ###