Ridesharing services are making headlines in the Twin Cities — and not always for reasons the companies would like. St. Paul has mainly embraced ridesharing services. But officials in Minneapolis contend that some of them amount to taxi services and thus require licenses.
What does the explosion of these services say about our once car-obsessed society? Is this the future of transportation?
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Such municipalities see Lyft and its rivals, like UberX, as taxi companies that must be regulated as such. Lyft et al insist they are anything but, and therefore are exempt from such regulations.
The truth isn't easy to discern. Lyft, superficially, does resemble a taxi service. You call for a car. It comes. You ride. You pay. The end.
But Lyft and its rivals differ from traditional taxi services in significant ways. Its drivers are average Joes and Janes fielding their own sedans, which don't have taxi markings. Instead of a taxi meter, the drivers use their phones to find their clients and take them to their destinations.
Lyft doesn't have fixed fares, either. Instead, it suggests "donations" that riders can adjust upward or downward as they see fit. (Julio Ojeda-Zapata, TwinCities.com and St. Paul Pioneer Press)