ROCHESTER, Minn. – After around a year of discussion, debates and two online petitions, a city ordinance that would allow Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft to operate in Rochester became official.
According to the Assistant City Administrator, as soon as the ordinance is published, ride sharing companies can begin applying to operate.
For months an extension of the “Uber conversation” has been on about the city’s taxicab franchises; Med City Taxi, Yellow Cab, and RST Taxi. The three companies voiced concern about TNCs potentially hurting the local cab industry. The council agreed to revisit the city’s taxicab ordinance and Wednesday night a public hearing was held on some proposed changes to the ordinance that were submitted by cab franchise holders.
The Rochester City Council met for the first time in 2017 on Wednesday night. Council President Randy Staver, Council Members Mark Bilderback (Ward 4), Michael Wojcik (Ward 2), and Annalissa Johnson (Ward 6) took the oath of office.
“I think most of the changes in the taxi ordinance could be under the umbrella of just making things less onerous for taxi companies and to level the playing field among all of the taxi companies or ride for hire sorts of systems and companies,” explains Council President Staver.
A representative from Med City Taxi addressed the council and said while the company agrees to most of the changes, they have concerns about others. One example noted was the proposed change that would eliminate a minimum fare.
“We had some changes to consider this evening then some additional changes were brought forward by one of the other taxi companies, so all we’re going to do is take a couple of weeks to consider those changes and perhaps incorporate them into the modified language,” Staver adds.
The ordinance will go back to the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 18th with the hopes of finding common ground between the three companies.
The meeting happened to be the first time the new council met in 2017. Council President Randy Staver, Council Members Mark Bilderback (Ward 4), Michael Wojcik (Ward 2), and Annalissa Johnson (Ward 6) took the oath of office beforehand. Mayor Ardell Brede, gave his State of the City address, and new rules for public hearings were announced. The guidelines include limits on how long speakers have to present, which was implemented to avoid marathon meetings, like the one in November that lasted 9 hours.