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Hundreds debate proposal to allow Uber to pick up people at the airport

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Hundreds of people showed up to a public meeting to discuss allowing ride-share programs to pick up passengers at the airport.

Passengers can already take Uber and Lyft to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and now officials are considering an ordinance to allow those services (called transportation network companies or TNC) to pick them up too.

But it's something many taxi drivers are opposed to, reports note, because they say Uber and Lyft (which are typically cheaper than a ride in a taxi) are taking business away from them, KARE 11 reports.

Hundreds of people (WCCO says about 450 people were there, while the Star Tribune estimates over 200) from both sides of the issue attended Monday night's meeting to share their thoughts.

Drivers for TNCs said they are consistently asked by customers why they can't be picked up at the airport, which has Uber drivers like Dustin Simko saying "it's time we evolve" and allow pickups, the Star Tribune says.

Right now, more than 700 taxis are permitted to pick up riders at the airport, the Star Tribune says, and many of those drivers spoke out at the meeting, saying more competition in the industry could increase racial disparities, while others say ride-share programs should have to pay the same licensing fees taxis do, WCCO notes.

The Metropolitan Airport Commission says if the ordinance passes, license fees would be similar for taxi and Uber drivers. The ordinance includes a series of fees TNC drivers would have to pay: a $5,000 security deposit, a $500 license/renewal fee and a $3 per-trip fee.

The commission isn't expected to make its final decision until at least March, WCCO notes. If it passes, passengers could start taking Uber home from the airport as early as April, the Star Tribune says.

The public is invited to comment on the ordinance here.

Ride-share programs like Uber have been a hot topic in Minnesota and around the country in recent months as lawmakers debate required insurance policies and other ordinances to regulate TNCs.

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