• 05Dec

    I completely understand this person’s need for annonymity.


    Greetings Council Members,
    I received an email from a neighbor that is a perspective that you may not have heard. To protect her anonymity I have not included her place of work or name. I will be out of town and not able to attend tonights meeting.

    “I have been working at a major downtown hotel at the Front Desk on the overnight shift for a year.

    Hotel guests very often need to book taxis or shuttles to the RST (and MPS) airports. The shuttles are all part of the same companies as the taxis: STAR/RST shuttle are Med City taxi, Go Rochester Direct is part of the Yellow Cab company.

    The argument that we don’t need an option for Uber is ridiculous and I would guess that Yellow Cab and Med City did not fully share their situation with their connections with those on the City Council.

    The situation is this: Neither company has enough taxi’s to cover the needs especially in the morning hours for all the guests at our hotel (to say nothing of the plethora of other hotels in town and our own citizens) to get a taxi or shuttle (limited schedules based on the flight departures from RST) without making a reservation a day ahead of time. There are many MANY days that we are told that they are booked out–by both Yellow and Med City. Guests are very often left in the lurch and stressed out believing that they could get a taxi at the front of the hotel when they need one (and is usual in any other city in the country); that is absolutely not accurate and between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. for those first 3 flights out of RST on DL and AA I am often like a traffic cop putting guests together in taxi’s and negotiating with the taxi companies to do the same. These requests to the airport are also compounded by many people needing to get to SMH for early morning check-in for surgical procedures. There are NOT enough taxi’s to meet demand for the hotel guests and for the community members. There is a new taxi company with blue vehicles, but I have tried calling them for guests in a pinch and they don’t answer or have poor communication/contact abilities that I am leery to trust.

    The preferential situation shown by the Council recently to the Yellow Cab company and Kurt Marquardt is out of line and without reason besides being really unethical in my opinion; they probably however don’t realize that we don’t have enough taxi’s in town to fill anywhere close to the needs of the hotels and the community. As a citizen I have not had a taxi on time to get me to the airport in some time and make my request sometimes for an hour before I really should need it or I just drive and take the expense hit–which is usually what I do as I cannot trust the pick-up time reservation or not.”



  • 05Dec

    Here is a letter that the council received from Sandy Melville. She came to speak at the Uber hearing but could not stay until 4 AM.


    It was mentioned that I reach out to you regarding the NEED for a Rochester ordinance change to allow UBER access to Rochester. I would absolutely like to have a chance to address the council regarding an ordinance change for UBER. I sat through the marathon session 2 weeks ago waiting ENDLESSLY while people talked multiple times and for 20-30 minutes each about the Miracle Mile project. By 2a.m. my head was POUNDING and I needed to leave during the lengthy address by Roger of Roger’s Tree service.

    My push and interest in UBER is NOT for my use but in having talked to hundreds and hundreds of DUI offenders within  se. MN. counties.  I have addressed most likely over 20 groups of DUI offenders at MADD facilitated victim impact panels. Some of these groups I’ve address have been in excess of 100 people upwards to 200 at a time. These groups are comprised mainly of 20-30 yr old millennials.

    When given a questionnaire to complete after these panels SOOOOOO many have answered the question of “why they drove drunk” with, there was NO TAXI service available for over an hour.  They shared they didn’t want to wait that long!

    I also host NUMEROUS MAYO dept meetings at DAMON House, which is William MAYO’S retirement home adjacent to the MAYO Foundation House.  These meetings are comprised of MAYO employees from Rochester, Jacksonville and Tucson along with many other MAYO satellite locations.

    The ages of these groups vary, but when I host a group of resident DR.’s for interviews they are of course millennial’s looking to relocate to Rochester.  They are very surprised and MOST dismayed that Rochester does NOT have the UBER service !!!!!

    Uber allows users to make reservations via a phone app and ALL payment information is contained in that app so ZERO CASH CHANGES HANDS.  I’ve also hosted visiting Physicians that use the UBER app to track their families/ childrens use while they are away from home visiting Rochester as a guest Physicians/speaker.

    I can specifically share these example by married Physicians from Quebec tracking their 18 yr old son’s travel and UBER use while at home in Canada when they were in Rochester.

    My daughter lived in the Milwaukee suburban area for 3.5 years and used UBER religiously and continues to do so now living in the western suburb’s of MSP.

    Rochester wants to compete on a level with large metropolitan areas with our DMC initiative than UBER needs to be a part of this picture. When the owners and /or Managers of the TAXI companies in Rochester cry FOUL stating this will hurt their business and make them lay off employees just shows nothing short of a monopoly.

    Rochester is host to more than 1-2 grocery stores, restaurants and god KNOWS too many drinking establishments that OVER-SERVE many people in the “vibrant” alcohol fueled downtown and they ALL seem to exist and do business.

    Why does a TAXI business owner get to scream foul and control what Rochester needs to compete in this DMC growth to serve a LARGE group of the population ?

    NOT everyone coming to Rochester or living in this fair city has the income of many MAYO Physicians and scientists.  There is a push for affordable housing in this upcoming DMC city, this need can ALSO be applied to affordable transportation.

    My push for UBER and affordable 24 hour transportation is personal;

    I lost my 23 yr old son 6 yrs ago on 11-27-10.  A drunk driver hit and killed him on impact as he crossed the crosswalk with 7 other individuals on Broadway and 4th. Austin was hit one step from the curb adn thrown 51 feet to his death by an alcohol impaired driver that was OVER-SERVED in Rochester establishments!

    Thank you for your time and consideration

    Sincerely, Sandy Melville

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  • 22Nov

    At the risk of sounding uncivil, let me rant on just how poor the Uber / TNC decision was.

    Uber photo Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 4.30.17 AM_zpsyx2iu1nk.png

    • City staff worked on behalf of Andy Chafoulias (Yellow Cab owner) to delay the Uber vote until after the election. Based on the anger over the outrageous positions of Hruska, Hickey, and Staver, that may have influenced results. Privately staff will acknowledge that the delay was wrong, but will say nothing publicly.
    • For years I have been asking the council to move high profile hearings to another date and time to separate it from other business. For years city administration and the majority of the council have ignored this common sense request. As such we voted on Uber at 4 AM.
    • For all of those who want to preach on civility take a look at how Brittney Wilson was treated at 3:30 AM. She was cut off despite being far more knowledgable on Uber than the majority of the council. For that matter See Hickey’s handling of Kutzky Park information…
    • We delayed to have Uber available to answer questions (this was the 3rd meeting) now we want a 4th. They went to our committee meeting answered every question, stayed till 4 AM only to have Mark Hickey profess that he hasn’t had a chance to get issues addressed.
    • Through no fault of her own Sandra couldn’t make it to 4 AM. Shame on us for making that necessary. Regardless of how she would have voted. Annalissa has stated public support for Uber and will be joining the council soon, so this isn’t a loss but rather a delay.
    • Loaded language of “lowering the bar” was used repeatedly by three people that basically know little or nothing about Uber. For the rest of us the language was laughable at best.
    • It irritates me that an RCVB employee was concerned about issues related to the RCVB CTA program, and participated in the discussion and vote advocating for the RCVB / Brad Jones / Andy Chafoulias anti-Uber position.
    • Representatives from Uber came down to Rochester, stayed with us for 13 hours only to have this happen. I appreciate their voluntary contributions, I apologize to them, and by January 4, 2017 I am committed to doing a 1st reading of a TNC ordinance that is not encumbered by unnecessary obstacles aimed at causing TNCs to fail or be less competitive.
    • As best I can tell everyone that spoke against Uber is directly or indirectly tied to a cab company.
    • If none of this gets you angry try this one: Sandy M. who lost her son to a drunk driver in downtown Rochester drove to Rochester to testify at the council hearing. She hung out until 2 AM before she drove back to Austin. This morning she sent me the note note below apologizing. She is a strong proponent of Uber. Sandy let me say as a council member who is ashamed of both this process and decision, it is I that apologize to you.

    My apologies. Michael I’m sorry I left last night before that Uber discussion. At 2 AM I hit a wall and my head was pounding. By 3:30 AM I would have been up for 24 hours. I heard it went until 4 AM and there was a tie on the Uber vote.


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  • 17Nov

    Here is the Transit Networked Companies (Uber) ordinance. I hope to pass this on Monday, If possible I will suspend the rules and do a second reading with the intention of having Uber in place before the holiday season where drunk driving spikes.


  • 19Sep

    It would appear the my efforts are not being rewarded with meaningful action in enabling Uber as an option in Rochester.

    Here is the update from the city clerk. 

    Reading between the lines, Uber will not pander to the good old boys existing traffic service, therefore we will not allow it. Let us suggest this other alternative to cover ourselves.

    Adopt a general ordinance like the ones in Minneapolis/St. Paul. This would allow any TNC to come in and operate under basic guidelines. For reference, I provided a memo on the Minneapolis/St. Paul ordinances to the Council on April 12th. Uber has stated that they potentially have interest in coming in under a general ordinance. Lyft does not have any interest at this time but possibly in the future. The concern I have is that it is very difficult to find a situation where TNC’s have come into a City without a large amount of controversy and issues. I have a number of articles from 2014 to today from all over the world that detail the often difficult process of having TNC’s begin operations. I would like to avoid this situation if possible.



  • 02May

    A Transit Networked Company (TNC) is a program that links those looking for rides with those willing to provide them. I support TNCs in Rochester without picking and choosing which ones can come here. Uber & Lyft are among the most well known TNCs. My preference is that we be open to any innovative company that wishes to do business here and meet are willing to meet our safety standards. I suspect that the entry of TNCs present a challenge to tradition cab companies, however protecting existing jobs is a terrible reason to stifle innovation.

    1) Will TNCs will destroy local jobs?

    I personally believe that in Rochester there will always be rolls for some cab drivers. TNCs may challenge existing jobs in the Taxi Industry however the deployment of driverless cars will do the same. We have seen many industries change with the advent of new technology. We didn’t ban Travelocity to protect travel agent jobs.

    2) Will TNCs help reduce congestion, car dependence, and weaknesses in the transit system?


    Here is an article from the Urban Land Institute on how TNCs has reduced the need for cars in some areas.

    ULI: Multimodal Transit Dials Down the Need for Cars in Cities

    3) Will TNCs endanger public safety?

    No. Not if implemented correctly. While I do support TNCs, I also think we should require the same driver licensing that we do for cabs, this would ensure our standards are met. Further many cities have learned that TNCs like Uber can actually improve public safety.

    Uber and DUIs

    4) Should Rochester regulate TNC pricing?


    5) Why are TNCs currently banned?

    Because the ordinance the city council passed addressing taxi-cabs deliberately put in place requirements that do not apply and can not be met by TNCs. When the ordinance was passed I stated that the ordinance would effectively prevent TNCs from operating in Rochester. At the time the majority of the council was just fine with that. This might be changing.

    6) Should TNCs be able to access the airport?

    Yes, I believe so, so long as they pay the same access fee as cabs.


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