The “area’s most vulnerable population” will suffer most Uber and Lyft decision

Last week, Uber and Lyft, true to their word, announced that they would stop operating in Minneapolis after the City Council passed an ordinance hiking driver pay. What happens next?

Obviously, businesses in Minneapolis will suffer, especially the city’s struggling nightlife, and there will likely be an increase in DWIs. Fares for taxis will go up, which will benefit their drivers and those who can afford the higher rates, but those who cannot will suffer. This will disproportionately impact what Kare 11 calls “the area’s most vulnerable population.”

Kare 11 reports:

Some local agencies are scrambling Friday to try and figure out how to keep providing transportation to the area’s most vulnerable populations after Uber and Lyft announced they’re leaving Minneapolis on May 1st due to a new ordinance. 

Many organizations in Minnesota provide transportation to people with physical and cognitive barriers who say this move will have a traumatic effect. 

For example, four years ago, Dakota County partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides to about 4,000 people a year. That includes Liz Workman’s daughter, Tori, who gets a $1,000 stipend every month for rides to her job at a local grocery store. The money is funded by taxpayers. 

“They have to fix this,” said Workman about the city council. “If they’re smart, they’ll get back into it and get some consensus on what’s the right thing to do.”

Connect Ability of MN is a non-profit that partnered with Lyft four years ago. It says 3,000 people use the ride-share company and they’re busy letting all those clients now know what might happen next. 

“They’re literally going to have to quit their jobs because they will have no transportation to get to them,” said Connect Ability of MN Executive Director Sheri Wegner. “We’re going to create isolation and we’re going to create problems with increased demand on social services and case managers in the state of Minnesota who are going to be under tremendous pressure.”

She says that can lead to even further limited access to other things like stable housing, food and appointments. Wegner did commend the city council for approving a livable wage for drivers, but questions at what cost. 

“They stuck to their guns on their highest price and now everybody else has to pay the price for that,” said Wegner. “That’s very unfortunate.”

Wegner says her clients will have to rely more on cab companies and metro transit. And even if her clients can use rideshare, it could mean more transfers and a higher cost to skirt around the city Uber and Lyft will no longer serve.

Kare 11 notes that:

In a statement, council member Jamal Osman and co-author of the policy wrote, “The Minneapolis City Council will not allow the East African community, or any community, to be exploited for cheap labor. The Council chooses workers over corporate greed.”

Customers don’t seem to have factored into it at all. Too bad for Tori Workman.