We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Rochester green lights Uber service

447167f666d2f333a033cac12b864420.jpg
Mark Hickey
We are part of The Trust Project.

It didn't happen as fast as supporters hoped it would, and the process left elected officials dissatisfied, but the city of Rochester on Monday took its first real step toward allowing Uber and other ride sharing services to operate in the city.

The Rochester City Council voted 6-0 at the conclusion of a Monday meeting to approve an ordinance that would allow transportation networking companies into the city. Two council members changed their votes from the ordinance's last hearing two weeks ago and council member Ed Hruska was absent from Monday's proceedings.

The ordinance drew heavily from the language of St. Paul's regulations for Uber and other ride sharing companies. The council at a Monday afternoon committee meeting made its own edits to the ordinance and allowed for many suggestions for edits from Uber representatives.

The resulting local ordinance should provide for Rochester residents to use ride sharing technology here that they have found in other cities, said council member Nick Campion.

"I don't see this changing the landscape of TNCs (transportation network companies) in Rochester significantly. I think this is going to be quickly adopted and I think that it's going to be as successful as it would have been otherwise, and hopefully that's very successful as the people of Rochester were looking for," Campion said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ordinance requires one further reading and vote from the council before it is officially adopted. That could come as soon as the council's Dec. 19 regular meeting, or at its first meeting in 2017.

Uber supporters were greatly pleased to see the city action.

"(I'm) so happy. It's one of those things that you feel just validated that it's not just you that thinks a particular thing but it's an entire group of individuals throughout the city and throughout the country," said Chad Allen, who moved recently to Rochester from Chicago.

Allen was at the head of an effort to organize and present a petition that asked the council to support allowing the popular service in Rochester. The petition had been signed by more than 640 residents when Allen presented it Monday, he said.

"It was really fun to see how far this spread," Allen said. "It just goes to show how much this is really needed."

The turning point for council members who had previously opposed the ordinance was a final opportunity Monday to go line-by-line through the ordinance text and to consider the changes Uber representatives had asked for in the ordinance draft. Council member Mark Hickey led much of that discussion Monday.

The changes that resulted from that discussion centered on driver qualifications for the transportation networking companies. One change was to reduce the number of moving violations allowed for potential drivers from three to two. Another was a procedural change regarding license revocations — in effect, a driver candidate who had let his or her driver's license expire would not be barred due to a revocation.

Drivers under the local rules would still be subject to background checks, both through the company that hired them and by the city of Rochester in so-called spot checks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hickey said Monday night that he would support the ordinance, with the amendments, based on feedback from the community.

"It is what the people of Rochester want, so I'm going to support it. But we have to have an open set of eyes on what we're doing here," Hickey said.

Council President Randy Staver joined Hickey in changing his vote Monday to support the ordinance.

Council member Michael Wojcik said he was disappointed the ordinance, and Uber service, was held up so many times and that it was not available sooner. He voted in favor of the draft Monday night, as did council members Nick Campion and Sandra Means.

Staver noted the council would likely revisit the city's taxicab ordinance very soon and could "deregulate" some rules to provide a fair playing field with new transportation options that would come with Uber and other services, as taxi franchise representatives had previously requested .

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said he did not plan to exercise his mayoral veto power on the action.

What to read next
Many trans patients have trouble getting their insurers to cover gender-affirming care. One reason is transphobia within the U.S. health care system, but another involves how medical diagnoses and procedures are coded for insurance companies. Advocates for transgender people say those codes haven’t caught up to the needs of patients. Such diagnostic codes provide the basis for determining which procedures, such as electrolysis or surgery, insurance will cover.
Columnist Carol Bradley Bursack responds to some of the things readers commonly ask about her writing and how she chooses topics.
Following an internal change at the clinic allowing vaccinated employees to work without masks in areas of no patient contact, the clinic's expansive Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center now allows members to work out without face coverings for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Two new opportunities for bivalent vaccine boosters are available as Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center also continue to provide boosters.