Watch Lyft Redlining in Minneapolis

Considering the criticism that taxis received for not being willing to pick up individuals based on race or fares in this StarTribune article, it seems like a good time to point out that Lyft is redlining entire neighborhoods of Minneapolis.

If a taxi is going to operate in Minneapolis, it’s expected to serve the entire city rather than cherry pick certain neighborhoods. But, “disruptive” companies like Lyft seem to take a different approach to serving the city by only serving portions of it. Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Here are two animations that illustrate this. Notice that there are Lyft cars available for pickup when I tell the Lyft app that I’m south of Dowling. But, if I move myself north of Dowling, no cars are available:


Lyft Redlining in North Minneapolis

In Northeast Minneapolis, 30th Ave NE appears to be Lyft’s redline (note the message switch from a car being 12 minutes away to “available” [but not hailable]):

Lyft Redlining in Northeast Minneapolis

Imagine what would happen to a licensed Minneapolis taxi company if they refused to serve customers north of Dowling Ave? Why is Lyft any different?

Forbes reported in April that Lyft raised $250 million. It sounds like it’s quite lucrative to outsource drivers, cars, and insurance coverage while cherry picking neighborhoods to serve.

36 thoughts on “Watch Lyft Redlining in Minneapolis”

  1. Lyft drivers themselves choose where they want to operate, not the service. Therefore, most of us choose areas which are either close to our home/work, or near areas we travel often.

    If you want more Lyft options in those areas you showed, encourage people who live near those areas to become Lyft drivers, simple as that.

  2. @Jeff, or, Lyft could abide by the laws of the cities where they operate. The “we’re not redlining. Our independent contractor drivers are redlining” is one heck of a strange justification for redlining. Your “we’re not discriminating. We just prefer to take care of our own” argument seems like a likely reason why cities chose to create laws like “if you’re going to serve the city, you’re going to serve ALL of the city.”

  3. @Mark, thanks for posting that. That map clearly shows that they’re not serving the entire City of Minneapolis which is required for taxis.

  4. the point of Lyft isn’t to serve an entire city, moreso local neighborhoods, driven by people FROM and familiar with those areas.

  5. and that’s where we se things differently. who am I discriminating against by only working the area south of Lake Street? people who choose to live North of Lake St by choice?

  6. what about construction/home contractors who only cover specific areas of the metro? that happens ALL THE TIME. are they discriminating too?

    how about food trucks, they don’t ever come south of Lake Street and into my neighborhood, are they too discriminating against me?

  7. @Jeff, Lyft is breaking the law when they don’t follow the law that requires them to operate city-wide. Refusing service can justify revoking the license of a taxi driver, which is what Lyft is doing when they redline entire neighborhoods of Minneapolis.

    Construction/home contractors and food trucks are not taxis, so taxi laws don’t apply to them.

  8. again, i guess that’s where we differ… i use Lyft solely as a ride sharing service to make some extra cash while i’m in school. it allows me to work whatever hours I have free. many of my customers are friends and family I know personally honestly.

    it’s no different than me joining a carpool through my work, which carpools also do not need to follow taxi rules & regulations. whenever there is a loophole in something, blame the system not the people for getting around it.

  9. @Jeff, the loophole in this case is called “breaking the law”. It’s not a loophole. It’s breaking the law.

    I don’t doubt that Lyft works well for you. But, that doesn’t change the fact that Lyft is breaking the law. Why do you think cities require city-wide coverage? And, do you realize how pathetic it sounds when you put the onus on ME to find people to drive for Lyft in order to help Lyft not break the law? Seriously. Think about that.

  10. i guess i see your point, but I think we can both agree the laws are antiquated… Lyft/UberX have both operated in hundreds of other cities around the country LEGALLY for a while now. the Twin Cities sadly are behind the times (just like we are on Sunday sales)

  11. and I wasn’t putting the onus on you, i’m saying that’s the reason for there not being any Lyft drivers in those areas, whether you like it or not. take it up with Lyft, I’m sure they would be glad to expand their reach and customer base.

  12. @Jeff, there are antiquated taxi laws for sure. I don’t think providing service to the entire city is one of them. Lyft & Uber don’t operate legally in “hundreds of cities”. They’re not even in “hundreds of cities”, legally or not.

    Allowing companies to operate illegally does not make us a world class city. Nor does allowing out-state companies to suck 20% of revenues out of our community. World class cities are cities companies like Uber and Lyft are willing to follow the law in order to serve.

  13. Ed, i’m not sure exactly of the numbers honestly, but it definitely is now in Seattle (where my friends who got me into the service operate):

    Also, just FWIW, Lyft drivers generally work pretty random hours and sometimes very short shifts in my experience, so just doing a one time snapshot of availability by location might not be a great indication of Lyft/UberX’s overall location reach and numbers.

  14. @Jeff, I looked at Lyft and Uber’s websites to see which cities they serve. I’m assuming that they know where they operate.

    Your rational for why a car wouldn’t be available outside Lyft’s redline is incorrect. It’s because Lyft doesn’t expect its drivers to serve all areas of the city. As my screenshots show, the time is the same for when cars are available or not. The only difference is where a person happens to be when they try to hail a ride from an illegally operating taxi company. You can recreate this for yourself if you open the app in non-driver mode.

  15. oh, i wan’t exactly saying that’s why a car isn’t available outside of the area you tried exactly, moreso the number of available cars in the service area. i’d gladly pick up passengers in Richfield and Eagan in my house if that was available as an option.

    also, while taxi cab companies are required to serve the entire city, I can tell you that MANY many individual cabbies are very picky/territorial about where they mainly operate.

  16. @Jeff, here’s the difference: there are “MANY many individual cabbies are very picky/territorial about where they mainly operate” and there’s Lyft, who refused to go to certain areas at all. One can lose their license for refusing service and the other claims to be above the law.

  17. see, i think you see it as them refusing based on race, whereas I see it as being a business decision and going where they can make $$. most underprivileged/not so well off people i know personally would never even THINK of paying the rate a taxi charges, they all take public transit.

    my takeaway… you see taxis as a public service/goods, I see them as a private shuttle service.

  18. @Jeff, how you see taxi services and how they’re regulated in the reality based community are two separate things. Choosing to see them differently doesn’t change the law that Lyft is breaking.

    Frankly, I find your comments easiest to understand if I read them out loud to myself with a Southern drawl. The “Lyft screws poor people because screw poor people because it’s just good business” argument is why laws preventing “the way you see it” exist.

  19. you skated over my question… do you honestly think poor people use taxis regularly? that’s a factual question, not saying it’s “because it’s the way it is”.

    to me it seems like you’re feigning outrage just to feel better about yourself/life. based on reading your blog a bit today, it seems like you always have something to be “outraged” about, that seems like an exhausting way to live your life, but good on you i guess.

  20. also, i’m not saying they shouldn’t service all areas, i just would honestly like to see some data on what areas of MPLS are most utilized by taxi users

  21. @Jeff, I didn’t mean to ignore your question. Yes, poor people regularly use taxis. People who can’t afford to own and maintain cars use taxis. Hang out at the North Minneapolis Cub Foods if you don’t believe me.

    I do find your “just ignore people who are being screwed by Lyft” argument rather idiotic. A company has started running a taxi service in Minneapolis while pretending that’s it’s above the law, redlining areas of Minneapolis, providing no services to disabled people, allowing cars that would be illegal to drive as taxis, and sucking money out of the community, and your response is to tell me that I’m better off ignoring it. But, fist bumps!

    I’m sorry if my blog offends you because I’m not much of a cheerleader for companies that suck money out of our community while breaking the law. That’s not my thing. Perhaps Lyft has a blog you could follow?

    It’s great that you can leverage your smartphone to make money from your smartphone owning friends to cover some of your college costs. But, describing discrimination as a good business decision doesn’t change what it is. Have some pride, man.

  22. i guess we differ in the view of private businesses and the role government intervention/regulation should play, not just applying to taxis.

    hopefully for your sake the city and the companies start to see eye to eye.

    p.s. i personally know people who used to drive after drinking WAY more prior to Uber/Lyft, so there *are* some good benefits to it, regardless.

  23. @Jeff, laws preventing discrimination wouldn’t exist if discrimination wasn’t a problem. But, it is. Lyft is blatant in their law breaking while taxis risk their licenses to discriminate.

    One way for Lyft and the city to see eye to eye would be for Lyft to stop operating illegally. Is that unreasonable?

    It turns out that people have taken taxis rather than drink and drive for as long as taxis have existed. And, yes, there are drunk people who prefer Uber/Lyft. You can’t possibly be suggesting that that somehow makes them immune to the city’s laws. Can you?

  24. no, i’m just saying that you seem very anti-Uber/Lyft even *if* they were operating within the laws of the city of Minneapolis.

    also, cabs *can* refuse to pick up passengers they feel are intoxicated or possibly dangerous, which is one of the reasons I’ve felt more comfortable being a driver for Lyft, because you know who you are picking up ahead of time. Sure you can claim i’m discriminating, I see it as me being safe and realistic I guess.

    You seem really invested/interested in this issue, I wonder if you could find a cabbie and Uber/Lyft driver to let you ride along with them for a night and document your experience/differences, I know i’d be intrigued.

  25. @Jeff, a person wouldn’t need to use Lyft or Uber as a rider or driver to understand that discrimination is illegal.

    That said, I’ve used every version of Uber plus Lyft, and am an approved Lyft driver. I’m familiar with the model from both sides. I think the services are great. But, I don’t think they’re above the law. I can understand that it’s difficult to understand that someone can both like something and be critical of it, but that’s the case here. Both services are innovative improvements over traditional taxi services, but it’s far easier to be innovative if you choose to ignore the law. Personally, I don’t think breaking the law by discriminating against people (stuff laws are designed to prevent) is innovative or disruptive.

  26. fair enough, that sounds like a reasonable stance to me.

    I will say that I waited a while before applying to be a Lyft driver, in hopes that they would resolve their legal issues with the city, mostly because I was afraid of having my car towed. but the more I checked it out and realized they weren’t really doing that, I decided to give it a shot.

    I too would love to see things changed so that they are complaint with local laws, because I still think it’s a vastly superior service to regular taxis (which I never really utilized prior to Uber/Lyft, even while traveling) for many reasons.

  27. @Jeff, the idea that people can get paid to give someone a ride, then run errands on the way home, thus covering the cost of their time out of the house is pretty sweet.

    I’ve gone into driver mode a few times in St Paul before Lyft decided to start breaking Minneapolis’ laws. The thing that scared me the most as a driver is, what would happen if I killed someone while driving to pick them up? As I understand it, Lyft’s insurance doesn’t kick in until I actually start a fare, and I don’t think my auto insurance would be interested in paying for a settlement on a business use of my car. So, things are probably great until they might be really not great.

  28. yep, there’s definitely a very big assumed risk on the driver (and passenger), no question… i tend to stick to in-town roads for my trips and avoid highways (aka: high speed) whenever possible.

    since you mention St. Paul, do you know how their laws differ exactly from Mpls that make them able to operate legally?

  29. “see, i think you see it as them refusing based on race, whereas I see it as being a business decision and going where they can make $$. most underprivileged/not so well off people i know personally would never even THINK of paying the rate a taxi charges, they all take public transit.”

    So, only poor people live in North Minneapolis, huh? Interesting…

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