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Hennepin County's chief public defender says some of his most vulnerable clients will be placed at an increased risk for arrest if Uber and Lyft make good on their pledge to stop operating in Minneapolis on May 1.

Michael Berger, in a letter sent Monday to Minneapolis City Council members, said his office relies on rideshare to ensure clients show up for their court appearances safely and on time, and he has not and would not be able to find viable transportation alternatives if rideshare disappears.

"Our concern is that loss of these services will result in more failures to appear, more warrants and more dangerous situations for our clients," Berger wrote.

Both rideshare companies have said they will stop serving Minnesota's largest city after the Minneapolis City Council last month passed an ordinance setting minimum pay for drivers. The legislation requires drivers to be paid $1.40 per mile plus 51 cents a minute for trips that start, end or pass through the city. The San Francisco-based rideshare giants have said that is too high and would make it too expensive to continue.

The Minneapolis pay requirements are higher than a Department of Labor and Industry study which suggested that drivers could be paid 89 cents per mile and nearly 49 cents per minute to reach minimum wage equivalency for rides across the metro.

The Minneapolis City Council could revisit the ordinance at its next meeting on April 11. But it's unclear what, if any, action might be taken. There is hope among state leaders that a compromise could be reached.

Berger is hoping the council will have a change of heart.

The Public Defender's Office has used Uber and Lyft since 2018, and it provides about 60 round-trip rides to and from court each month. With many clients living in poverty, chemically dependent and/or mentally ill, the rides have been a successful way to keep clients from facing even more trouble.

"Transportation to and from court hearings is a consistent barrier to fair and equitable outcomes in criminal court," Berger wrote. "Failure to attend court — because of inadequate transportation — results in warrants for arrest. Warrants for arrest as we have tragically seen result in death for a disproportionate number of the black and brown residents of our city."