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Are Uber & Lyft Rides Really Ending at the Minneapolis Airport?

The headlines are stark: Uber and Lyft will exit Minneapolis after its city council forced through a pay hike for drivers, leaving travelers wondering if they need to figure out a new way to get to and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) airport.

Not so fast.

The city's new regulations (and the rideshare companies' threats to leave) don't take effect until May 1. That leaves plenty of time for both companies to back down or reach a deal with city officials – or for the higher-ups at the Minnesota Legislature to step in, forcing through its own rules that could override the city's actions altogether.

But the prospect of losing one or both massive transportation companies would hit travelers and the airport hard. As demand for Lyft and Uber rides has grown, the Minneapolis airport relocated its designated rideshare pickup zone just a few months ago … to a spot nearly twice the size.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the airport's governing body said: “We will continue to monitor the situation to determine any potential impacts” from May 1 onward.
 

loading a car at msp airport
Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Airports Commission

Rideshare drivers and union organizers have been pushing for higher wages in cities across the country for years, always prompting pushback from Uber and Lyft that such increases would force them to shut down. After weeks of debate, the Minneapolis City Council approved a plan that would raise per-mile and per-minute payouts for drivers, among other measures … only to be vetoed by the Minneapolis mayor.

On Thursday, council members voted to override that veto, keeping pay hikes in place.

Within minutes, Uber announced its plans to cease operations throughout the entire Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, specifically including the airport. Lyft said it will only exit the city limits, leaving the door open to continue airport dropoffs and pickups – though perhaps not for Minneapolis residents.

It's not the first time either company has threatened to leave Minnesota. Last year, the state's Democratic Gov. Tim Walz vetoed similar proposals that would have raised drivers' payouts statewide. State lawmakers are already reworking those plans for potential passage, the Minnesota Reformer reports.

Still, there are more questions than answers.

Are Uber and Lyft committed to quitting a major market altogether, or are they bluffing? Could the companies and officials from the city or state cut a deal to avoid disruptions before the May 1 deadline?

And if it falls apart, what other options do travelers have?

 

Other Companies Could Step In

Uber and Lyft might be the two biggest names in the U.S. ride-hailing market, but others exist. And they could step in to keep rides moving. In fact, several companies say they're ready.

Wridz, a Texas-based competitor with service in nearly 19 U.S. cities, told Axios that Minneapolis has become a top priority for expansion amid all the drama. Other possible entrants include Empower, which is already operating in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and local startup Pikkapp.

But none of them are licensed to pick up riders in Minneapolis yet. And city officials and business leaders doubt that any of them could fill the Uber- and Lyft-sized hole – at least not immediately.

“There’s no company that’s ready to step in and do what Uber and Lyft does. They’re not prepared to do that today,” Adam Duininck, president & CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, told KSTP-TV.

But from shuttle services to personal transport to luxury chauffeurs and limos, there are plenty of other car services already driving to the airport and back today – they may just not be rideshare apps. Those will likely get more passengers, too.

 

Taxis Are Still a Thing

Remember taxis? They're still out there … there just aren't many.

In Minneapolis, there are currently just 39 licensed cab drivers – down from nearly 2,000 a decade ago, according to KSTP-TV's analysis of city records. At the airport, Uber and Lyft's new pickup spot took the place where cabs used to wait, pushing taxis further away.

But onetime taxi drivers who followed the market to drive with rideshare apps could find their way back to cab companies if Uber and Lyft make good on their promise and leave this spring.

 

Ride the Light Rail from Downtown Minneapolis

Whether you live in the city or not, this might be the cheapest (and greenest) option to get to the airport.

The Blue Line light rail runs directly from downtown Minneapolis to the airport, with fares as low as just $2 per person each way. Plus, you can park in downtown Minneapolis for even less and ride the light rail using the Ramp-Ride-Fly program.

A three-day minimum stay starts at just $21, and each additional day of parking costs just $5. There's a 16-day maximum stay before normal, 24-hour rates kick in. You have to reserve your parking spot online.
 

blue line train
Photo courtesy of Metro Transit

 

Parking at the Airport

For shorter trips, travelers departing Minneapolis may simply choose to drive themselves to the airport instead.

Terminal 1 currently charges $30 a day, while parking at Terminal 2 costs $23 a day.

Thrifty Tip: Even if you're flying out of Terminal 1, you can park at Terminal 2 and take the free light-rail connection between terminals.

The Minneapolis airport also offers a “Quick Ride Ramp” on airport grounds (but not connected to either terminal) with a 24/7 shuttle service at even lower rates: $19 a day.

No matter where you plan to park, you can pre-book online to ensure you've got a spot when you pull up to the airport.

Countless hotels around the airport also offer park-and-fly packages.

 

Bottom Line

Uber and Lyft aren't done in Minneapolis on May 1. They say they'll be done on May 1.

Both popular rideshare apps have vowed they'll cease driving in Minneapolis – and likely to and from the airport – this spring following the passage of higher wages for their drivers. But a lot can change in the next 45 days.

 

12 Responses

  • Quick Ride Ramp tip- we were going to use it yesterday but during march they only take reservations (with 12 hours notice). We ended up going to terminal 2 and taking the LRT over. The local 3 park and rides were all full

  • Bottom line is the city has an issue with free market. If the fare is too cheap you can always pay more. Rest assured taxis will charge 3x the amount. This is bad for the consumer; another terrible decision by Minneapolis. No wonder cost of living, inflation, taxes are out of control

  • Drivers deserve descent earnings per mile to cover car notes, insurance, gas, maintenance and depreciation costs andreasonable take home wages. Threats of ending services in Minnesota is just the fear of loosing the grips of drivers they have exploited, abused and enslaved as did slave owners of the colonial era of slavery. If you have doubts, consider a rider’s fare of $71+, out of which a driver earns $17.10, how do you justify this? Absolute exploitation, in what the renowned economist, Adam Smith, refers to as “Optional moral injustice “.
    Why is the issue of take-rate (commission) of 25%, and recently, in Forbes, stated the company’s take-rate is 15% of the rider’s fare to fool the public, lawmakers, and the relevant governmental agencies pushed under the carpet? It’s a big joke of the 21st century dark days of slavery.

  • The airport address is 4300 Glumack Dr, St Paul, MN 55111, outside the city limits of Minneapolis and thus should be excluded from the new ordinance.

    • Uber has said it will leave the entire metro area. Lyft, meanwhile, has only threatened to leave Minneapolis – including any rides that begin or end in the city.

  • I have lived in Minnesota all my life and half the ways they mention to and from the airport I have never heard of. One of the councils sulutions is to park at a hotel. They didnt mention that at busy times they are full and will not take on new customers. they also charge and cost more than taking an uber ride. Cabs are expensive and the drivers in Minneapolis are rude. why do they think people stopped taking them. but they have 39 cabs waiting to take the place of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers or take a limo to the suberbs. ever notice when Minneapolis make the news it always for something dumb.

  • Let Uber and Lyft leave! I have “worked” for Uber for 5 years and have completed thousands of trips only to be treated like it was my first day on the job and I think that’s their business model; keep new people coming in the system who are naïve so they can continually pay under performing fares. Uber is an unethical company. I have job request examples of a one hour trip that pays seven dollars. I don’t think seven dollars before expenses an hour is a living wage. I have tried to figure out what Uber means by saying that drivers make $33 a “utilized” hour… let Uber and Lyft leave or pay up.

  • The complexity of this is enormous! It can be fixed with the drivers bravado and negotiate.
    I drive with Uber and I hope they stay. I’m never without a ride.
    Drivers have leased vehicles for Uber. Not a small expense, but without the vehicle, they wouldn’t be driving Uber.

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