ROCHESTER, Minn. – Before the end of the month, the Rochester City Council could vote on an ordinance that would allow Transit Network Companies like Uber and Lyft to operate within the city.
Councilman Michael Wojcik says both he and fellow Councilman Nick Campion were frustrated with what he calls “delay tactics” that were keeping Uber from becoming a reality.
“Behind the scenes, I think there were people playing games trying to deliberately keep Uber from coming in, from competing with their personal interests,” Wojcik tell us.
During Monday night’s City Council meeting, he and Campion directed city staff to start work on drafting an ordinance to enable TNCs in the city. He says the hope is to put it to vote during the Oct. 17 meeting.
The “Uber conversation” is one that has been going on for more than a year. Local taxi cab companies have spoken out against TNCs. One driver even started a “Ban Uber” online petition, citing concerns about cab companies losing business and public safety.
“There are safety concerns and we’ll do our due diligence to make sure that they’re addressed,” Wojcik explains. “The reality is hundreds of millions of people have access to Uber. We’re not doing something new and novel here, we’re just catching up with the times. Other cities have figured out how to handle this, including Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth; we can too.”
While it’s not required for this type of ordinance, Wojcik says they do plan to have a public hearing.
“I think the votes are there, I think there’s enough public outcry and frustration where, not unlike Sunday liquor sales and food trucks, the public will spur some reluctant council members to take the appropriate action,” he adds.
He also said he believes Uber will help address “gaps” it the city’s public transit system.
As far as local cab companies’ argument that ride sharing services would run them out of business, Wojcik acknowledged there is a concern, but he believes there’s room for both cab companies and Uber in Rochester.