May 11, 2017 06:29 PM
Parking in the south metro is becoming a problem for families trying to get to their child's sporting events.
That's because Uber and Lyft drivers, waiting to pick up fares at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, are taking up parking spots near the Nieman Sports Complex.
Unlike taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers can't park at the airport, so they sit and wait nearby.
"There is no specific place where you can sit and get the fares," Uber driver Adbi Sigar said.
But complaints are rising.
Sigar used to park in a lot near the Nieman Sports Complex, close to the airport, until drivers were kicked out. Some moved just a couple blocks away to a park and ride.
But others sit along Bloomington Road right next to the fields at Nieman, taking up valuable spots for those who have come to watch or play.
"I drove past once, turned around and drove back to the other end again looking for a spot," said umpire Tom Hayden, who showed up Wednesday afternoon for a game.
An email from Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto states:
"Over the past two weeks, the MPRB has received several complaints about Uber and Lyft drivers 'staging' within Fort Snelling for fares at Twin Cities International Airport."
And there's another problem.
Bloomington Road is posted no parking during the day - from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Yet on visits Wednesday and Thursday, there were at minimum 10 cars there, and up to 20 on Thursday afternoon - all Uber or Lyft drivers waiting for a pickup at the airport.
Drivers have to be in close proximity to the airport for their phone to ping for a pick-up. But they have no designated lot on airport property.
"We don't have a place, so we try to sneak in," one Uber driver said.
When another driver was asked if he knew he was parked in a no parking area, that driver said: "Yeah, I don't know. I saw people parking here, so I just parked here."
In his email, Ohotto states the board is researching options "to further restrict parking and ensure park patrons have adequate parking for scheduled activities."
The ordinance allowing Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up passengers at the airport took effect in January.
Last year, some taxi drivers complained the ride sharing services could put them out of business.
But the Metropolitan Airports Commission came up with a plan requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to comply with ADA laws and be under the same permit requirements and fees as a taxi driver.
Airport officials said they are in the process of negotiating with ride share companies to give them a designated parking spot at the airport - possibly near Terminal 2.
Airport spokesperson Patrick Hogan said ride share companies would need to lease the land, so they are reviewing the property and weighing whether they want to do so.
"We have very little undeveloped land on the airport, so options are limited," Hogan said.
Several other major airports in the Midwest already have specific staging areas for Uber and Lyft pick-ups.
Updated: May 11, 2017 06:29 PM
Created: May 11, 2017 04:53 PM
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