Does downtown Fargo need late night pickup zones for ride-sharing and taxis? Police say yes

Fargo eyes late-night taxi pickup areas as way to ease hubbub accompanying bar closing times downtown.

Craig Thompson drives his first Uber fare May 14, 2015, through downtown Fargo on the company's first day of operation there.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — Fargo police hosted a "Downtown Download" meeting Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Fargo City Hall to share information and encourage public feedback about issues facing the downtown area.

One thing on the minds of police officers is the congestion and confusion that often reigns on certain nights of the week when bar patrons spill out of drinking establishments and attempt to find a taxi or ride-sharing service to get them home.

People trying to buy from food vendors parked outside of downtown bars can add to the general chaos, said Sgt. Brent Halverson, who led Wednesday's meeting.

"We have a large population of people that come downtown, and then they all tend to want to leave at the same time," Halverson said, adding that the aim of city officials is to find a way to make the situation better and safer "so we don't have somebody get hurt down there."

City officials held a brainstorming session recently with a number of downtown bar owners and managers, he said. One idea the group came up with was having select areas in key parts of downtown where people would be encouraged to use ride-sharing and taxi services.


Halverson said instead of people leaving a bar and tussling for the attention of a taxi or ride-sharing driver, they would instead head for specific spots downtown where such services would have vehicles parked on the street waiting for fares.

He said possible spots could be the 600 block of NP Avenue North and perhaps the 500 block of Fourth Avenue North, where a police substation would be nearby.

The idea would be to cordon off a section of those avenues as no-parking zones, so spaces along the curb could be used by taxis and other vehicles to pull in and drop people off or pick people up, according to Halverson, who added he has been in communication with ride-sharing companies to figure out how such a setup might work.

During the same brainstorming session with downtown business owners, Halverson said, it was suggested that food cart operators could be encouraged to set up in the areas designated for taxis and ride-sharing services, with the aim of reducing congestion and other issues that sometimes occur at closing time.

"There's a litany of things," he said, referring to complaints tied to food carts, including noise issues, as some cart operators have been known to play loud music well past 2 a.m.

Dave Zibolski
Fargo Police Chief Dave Zibolski speaks during a "Downtown Download" meeting on Dec. 1, 2021. David Olson/The Forum.

Halverson noted that food cart operators who operate on a public right of way are not supposed to operate downtown between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m., which brought a comment from a food cart operator who said most of his business is conducted between 1:45 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. and that cracking down on that time limit would severely impact his operation.

Police Chief Dave Zibolski said he is open to the idea of extending the time frame food carts can operate if city commissioners are OK with the change and if food cart operators are willing to do their late-night business in the designated taxi/ride-sharing pickup and drop-off zone.


"It gets quite chaotic at times," Zibolski said, referring to closing time in downtown Fargo on certain nights. "We've gotten a lot of complaints from people who live down there."

Fargo Police Sgt. Brent Halverson
Fargo Police Sgt. Brent Halverson leads a "Downtown Download" meeting at Fargo City Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. David Olson/The Forum

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