Lyft fight shows DFL confusion over transport

DFL vs Ridesharing

On Monday, I — along with thousands of others, I imagine — received an email from Lyft reading:

John, the Minneapolis City Council is considering an ordinance that would force Lyft to stop operating within the city on April 1.

This ordinance could nearly double prices for Lyft rides in the city. More expensive rideshare prices could impact ride volume, meaning that drivers would end up earning less–even with higher pay rates.

Join the effort to keep Lyft in Minneapolis. Tell your local elected officials to vote against this proposed ordinance and keep rideshare accessible and affordable.

As WCCO reports, this comes after:

…a Minneapolis City Council committee advanced a proposal that would guarantee minimum pay for rideshare drivers — a revived effort after Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed a similar measure last summer

Under the plan, drivers would be paid $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute while transporting passengers and would make no less than $5 per ride. They would also keep 80% of fees for any canceled requests for service.

As noted, Mayor Frey vetoed a similar measure last year and Governor Walz vetoed a push by the state legislature for a statewide measure (which Uber said would increase costs to customers by 30%). These vetoes show that such measures have broad support within the DFL — they passed both the Minneapolis City Council and state legislature after all. But how do we square this with some of the DFL’s other priorities, namely its obsession with ‘public’ transit?

Rideshare from the North Country

As I wrote last year in a story titled “Practicability of the Northern Light Express Train service,” WDIO asked an enthusiast for the scheme what the expected throngs of passengers arriving into Duluth by train would be expected to do if they had not travelled there to look at the train station and its surroundings; if, for example, they wanted to visit the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum in Eveleth. The enthusiast said:

…when that train comes in, there will be busses, hopefully there will be more Ride share and cab companies that will revitalize. 

Leave aside, for the moment, the question of what a cab — or a rideshare, like Lyft — would charge to drive you the 59 miles from the station in Duluth to Eveleth and back. Ponder, instead, what happens to this enthusiast’s fantasy if the DFL gets its way and rideshare services cease operating in the state altogether: It collapses. The Northern Lights Express — already the least eagerly anticipated train since the movie High Noon — becomes even less viable than it already is.

I wrote yesterday that the current “manic desire to build vastly expensive transit which offers poorer service than the options currently available and for which there is no great desire whatsoever beyond a handful of activists” was inspired, in part, by “the desire to try and turn Minnesota, and the Twin Cities especially, into Europe,” with people breezing into Duluth and zipping the 59 miles to Eveleth with the same cosmopolitan ease with which Europeans zip the 1.1 miles from Paddington station to Madame Tussauds. But this won’t happen if the things you expect to do the “zipping” aren’t there because you chased them out of the state. Perhaps I credited our state’s “progressives” with too much coherence.