After a successful first year, Mpls. could allow Uber and Lyft to take on more drivers

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Minneapolis could be set to loosen the requirements for people to become drivers for Uber and Lyft following the companies' success in their first full year in the city.

Currently, drivers must be from Minnesota or Wisconsin to work for the app-based ride-sharing services, but a report submitted to the City Council on Tuesday recommends eliminating this requirement.

According to KARE 11, this could pave the way to allowing people such as college students from other states becoming drivers to earn some extra money while they study.

Another recommendation put forward to the council is to allow City employees to conduct background checks on drivers working for the transportation network companies (TNCs), after several drivers were found to be violating regulations.

These violations included not having the right insurance, and failing to display Uber or Lyft stickers on their vehicles. Currently, TNCs are responsible for conducting driver background checks.

And despite concerns nationally about the nature of "surge" pricing – higher fares charged at peak times – Minneapolis has received no complaints from customers about the amounts they were charged.

Uber, Lyft drivers don't avoid north Minneapolis

The recommendations follow a study using "secret shoppers" to monitor Uber and Lyft drivers in the city, amid concerns that some were avoiding deprived areas.

Data provided by 25 drivers from each company that suggested that drivers were not as responsive in areas of north Minneapolis, and focused more on high-traffic and high-profit areas like downtown, as reported last week by the Star Tribune.

The numbers showed that almost 3 percent of UberX drivers – the lowest-cost option offered by the company – avoided the northern edge of north Minneapolis, and over 2 percent avoided the North Dowling Avenue Area, according to the newspaper. Lyft drivers rejected even more trips, though they have a smaller coverage area.

But the city has since said that this was not the case, with Minneapolis Business License Manager Grant Wilson telling FOX 9 that the city's own research found that drivers were responsive to calls coming from the city's north side.

"In the end, we found out that that wasn't the case at all -- Uber was measuring data one way and Lyft another way," he said. "So what we did is we tested with secret shoppers over the last two weeks and we went to all parts of north Minneapolis. We did eight different tests at different times of the day and different metrics played into it."

"They came within minutes to every one of our test rides," he added.

The Star Tribune notes that Minneapolis was one of the first cities to legalize the businesses, which allow drivers to use their own vehicles to provide rides to customers who summon them using smartphone apps.

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