The city’s new regulations for Lyft and Uber eliminated minimum fares for the ridesharing services, an overlooked and sure to be contested aspect of the recently passed rules.
The new regulations place Lyft and Uber in a transportation category with limos and shuttle services. Under the law that passed, Metro’s Transportation and Licensing Commission is responsible for setting minimum fees, effectively getting rid of the $9-a-trip minimum set by Metro Council in January.
“It may not have been their intent, but my reading of the ordinance is that there technically is no minimum fee until it is approved by the MTLC,” said Jon Cooper, Metro Council’s attorney.
The price floor used to be $45. But the Council changed that rule in January, dropping it to $9 — roughly three times the minimum rate required of taxicabs.
Taxi companies will likely be pushing Lyft and Uber to have a higher minimum fee during the MTLC’s annual meeting in January. Taxicabs have a minimum ride fee set by the city of $3. Right now, both Lyft and Uber have their own minimum of $4.
“We thought it was important for the commission to have the latitude to debate it publicly, have the conversation publicly,” said Billy Fields, MTLC’s director.
If the MTLC moves to install a minimum fee for the “passenger vehicles for-hire” category, it would have to gain Metro Council’s approval before becoming city law.
A higher minimum fare would be good news for Lyft and Uber drivers. The companies say they give their drivers an 80-20 fare split.
It might not be such good news for customers, especially those who take very short trips.