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Rideshare platforms like Lyft and Uber have played a significant role in increasing access to transportation. This is especially true for people living with physical and intellectual disabilities. Crucial to a strong rideshare industry is ensuring those who help us get from point A to point B are paid fairly. However, the Minneapolis City Council's proposal to mandate rideshare driver pay is an overreach that would decimate this transit option.

How and what rideshare drivers should be paid has been a major topic of discussion across Minnesota. Last year, Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey both vetoed legislation that would have mandated pay rates for drivers. They did this because they understood we need to strike the right balance between what drivers are paid and what riders, particularly those from low-income communities, can pay.

Walz then created a task force I participated in to study the issue and make recommendations. This task force represented a diverse group of stakeholders, including drivers, community groups, labor organizations and the city of Minneapolis. Together, we worked for months to produce sound policy recommendations for the Minnesota Legislature to protect drivers. This work was in parallel with efforts by the Minnesota Department of Labor to collect data from rideshare companies for a study on driver earnings expected this month.

Lyft followed this work by also releasing its own analysis on what drivers on their platform make after expenses across the United States. When it looked specifically at the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, it found drivers are earning higher than the national median. In the second half of 2023, the median driver here earned an estimated $25.94 per engaged hour (the time between when a driver accepts a ride until the ride is complete) after expenses like gas, depreciation and maintenance.

This work wasn't good enough for several Minneapolis City Council members, who have reintroduced the very same mandates that were so threatening to our community. And this time, the council members say they have the votes to override any potential veto.

To be clear, drivers deserve fair pay. But the ordinance the council proposes could nearly double the price of rides, making rideshare rides more expensive than a taxi in Manhattan and a luxury that only the wealthiest can afford. That would be devastating to the disability community, who often rely on rideshare to get to work, to medical appointments to the grocery store. Rideshare services are critical for people with disabilities to enjoy full participation in the economy and in our communities.

And our community is not alone. The average rideshare rider in the Twin Cities makes below the average income of the state, and the majority of rides start or end in low-income areas. Clearly, these are not communities that can absorb this kind of price increase, and that means even with the higher rates, drivers might actually earn less because so few people would remain to use the service.

Not that they will be given the chance. Both Lyft and Uber have said publicly that should the proposal become law, they would no longer provide rides in Minneapolis due to the expense. This game of chicken is unhelpful and the wrong way to enact change that affects so many.

So, what is the right path forward? Ultimately, this issue is complicated and should be handled at the state level, not through a patchwork of individual cities. The council should join community organizations like ours around passage of a more comprehensive and sustainable statewide bill.

I applaud the Minneapolis City Council for its continued efforts to help drivers. It is a cause worth fighting for. But instead of moving forward with this ordinance, we should let the Legislature do its work. The task force was able to carefully consider the needs of all the stakeholders, including both the disability community and the drivers. So many people, including those most vulnerable in our communities, would suffer without access to rideshare services. That's why I strongly encourage the council to reject this ordinance.

Dan Meyers is a program director at Rise, a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities and other challenges.