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Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


In the ongoing controversy over the presence of Uber and Lyft in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis City Council members should do the right thing and modify the driver pay minimums they recently approved.

Too much is at stake to push the rideshare companies out of this market. They have become an integral part of the transportation system for customers including the disabled, seniors and others who can't or choose not to drive or use public transportation. Many employees rely on the services to get to work or to grocery stores, pharmacies or health care providers. And then there are those who wisely use the services when they had "a few too many" and make our roads safer by catching a ride home.

The best way forward when the council meets on April 11 would be to accept Council Member Andrea Jenkins' proposal to reconsider the rideshare pay measure approved last month. Then the council should immediately vote to lower the per-mile, per-minute amounts in that ordinance.

Quick history: In a 9-4 vote in early March, the council guaranteed drivers a floor of $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute, with a minimum $5 payment per ride. Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed that plan, but the council had enough votes to override. If nothing is done to modify terms or dates, the council plan will go into effect May 1. Uber has said it will cease operations in the entire seven-county metro area, while Lyft says it will pull out of Minneapolis proper on that date.

The companies have been making moves to carry out that threat, including calling back vehicles that some drivers rent to use for work.

Frey told an editorial writer that he's received more feedback on this issue than on almost anything else in his years as mayor and on the council, with the vast majority of people wanting the companies to stay. He said council members should study the results of a state-commissioned, comprehensive report on rideshare operations that included detailed data on driver earnings from more than 18 million Minnesota rides in 2022.

That study suggested that paying drivers 89 cents per mile and 49 cents per minute would bring them up to the city's required $15.57-per-hour minimum wage. And it stated that paying drivers $1.21 per mile and 49 cents per minute for rides across the metro would not only meet the equivalent of the city's minimum wage but also would cover expenses and benefits such as paid leave, health insurance and retirement savings.

Council Member Linea Palmisano also said that the issue has prompted a huge number of responses to her office, with most asking that the ordinance be changed. She told an editorial writer that too many of her council colleagues see the situation as "big company vs. workers" and have taken the workers' side. But she said that in her ward many people use the rideshare services to get to work or school and that without them, the social service needs for many citizens will increase.

A group of activist drivers who pushed for the higher wage recently said they would create their own local co-op of drivers to replace Uber and Lyft if necessary. And there are lesser-known rideshare enterprises that have said they'd be interested in setting up operations in the Twin Cities market.

But it is doubtful that any could be ready to operate here legally by May 1. Gov. Tim Walz, in urging the Minneapolis council to reconsider its vote, has said publicly that it's "magical thinking" to think new services could replace the two major rideshare companies (which provide about 400,000 rides per week locally) within the next few weeks. And he and some state legislators have indicated willingness to offer statewide rules that would preempt a Minneapolis ordinance.

As the Star Tribune Editorial Board has previously argued, it is crucial for the council to correct its mistake. Some City Council members have said they are willing to reconsider. We hope that's true and that they'll make the necessary changes to maintain Uber and Lyft as part of the state's transportation system.