Lyft

More ways to leave airports

DENVER AIRPORT WESTIN HOTEL with TRAINS

Photo courtesy Denver International Airport

Good news from Las Vegas, Chicago and Denver for travelers seeking more options for getting to and from the airports.

On Monday, San Francisco-based Lyft became the first ride-hailing service authorized to provide service to and from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

To mark the milestone, Lyft’s website has a code (FLYLAS) good for $5 off two rides to or from the airport, valid for the next six months.

Ride-sharing heavyweight, Uber, has not yet cleared the airport’s permitting process, But the company says it is working on that.

Meanwhile, ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft and Sidecar will be able to legally offer pick-ups at O’Hare and Midway airports beginning in 2016. (The deal with the city also allows the companies to provide service at the McCormick Place convention center and Navy Pier.)

And April 22, 2016 has been set at the opening day for the new commuter rail line that will run between Denver International Airport and Denver’s downtown Union Station.

The Regional Transportation District’s new A Line will make the 23-mile run in an estimated 37 minutes.

Tickets will cost $9 one-way, but for that same $9, travelers will be able to purchase an Airport Day Pass that will allow unlimited bus and rail rides, including to and from the airport, for one day.

Airports making deals with Uber, Lyft etc.

My “At the Airport” column on USA TODAY this month is an update on what’s happening with ride-hailing services at airports. Here’s the story:

Temporary sign at PIT Airport marks where Uber pick-ups are allowed.

After detours and disputes, many major airports are successfully hammering out deals with ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

That means more and, often, less expensive ground transportation options for many travelers.

Earlier this month, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced that, beginning Nov. 1, Uber and Lyft would be added to the list of authorized ground transportation options at Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington Airports.

At the end of August, the Los Angeles City County approved a permit process that will allow Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), as the ride-hailing services are also called, to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport.

Lyft, which already has operating agreements with 16 airports, is currently going through the permitting process at LAX, said airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles, but while representatives from Wingz, Opoli and Uber say they intend to apply, as of last week, no other TNC, had submitted an application for a permit.

“In the meantime, TNCs may continue to drop off passengers at LAX, but they cannot pick up customers,” Castles said.

In July, San Diego International Airport signed permits allowing Uber and Lyft to join ride-hailing service Opoli in offering pickup and drop-off service at the airport and, at the beginning of September, UberX began operating legally at Sacramento International Airport.

Airports in Seattle and other cities are working on and/and or close to announcing agreements with ride-hailing services as well, and if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new budget plan moves forward, ride-hailing services will soon be officially allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at O’Hare and Midway Airports.

“It wasn’t a question of when services such as Uber and Lyft were coming to airports or how to keep them out,” said Kevin Burke, President and CEO of ACI-NA, the organization which represents most commercial airports in North America, “The big challenge for airport directors was how to regulate the services,” given the various governing models in place at the nation’s airports, he said.

To help move things along, ACI-NA put together a task force that examines the services and offers suggestions to airports on how to negotiate a deal that works for everyone.

“Airports want to provide options for passengers that are coming in and leaving, and if Uber and Lyft are viable options, then we should be providing them,” Burke said. At the same time, though, airports need to make sure passengers are safe and airports need to protect themselves as legal entities, he said.

In 2013, airports in the U.S. and Canada earned $3.1 billion from parking and ground transportation fees, so airports need to make sure the agreements they work out with ride-hailing services protect that revenue as well.

“As we move along we’ll see more and more airports solving these challenges,” Burke said,” but each airport has a different story and there will likely be some snags.”

One of those snags is in Florida, where last week Broward County Commissioners spent more than six hours debating regulations that would have allowed Uber to operate at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

“They provide a very good service, our customers want to see that service, and we want to work with them to get that service here,” said Kent George, director of the Broward County Aviation Department, but negotiations between Uber and the county have “been difficult.”

George said while the airport looks at ground transportation services more as a customer service than a revenue center, he’s confident Uber won’t walk away from the large South Florida market, which includes 26 million annual passengers at Fort Lauderdale, 40 million passengers Miami International Airport and more than 7 million annual passengers at Palm Beach International Airport.

“The airports are working together and I believe we will eventually get to ‘yes’,” George said.

Airports adding – and rejecting – ride-shares

Flying car

Airports across the country are grappling with how to deal with taxi-alternative services and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and each week a few deals are being made.

This week San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced an agreement with Wingz, a company that connects citizen drivers with people needing airport rides. The pilot permit allows drivers to pick up and drop off at the airport, starting within the next 30 days.

Last month, SFO announced agreements with Sidecar, Lyft and UberX, awarding each a permit for a 90-day pilot program to allow the airport to evaluate the businesses.

This week, the Houston City Council approved rules granting Uber and other app-based companies access to the Houston airports, but in Cincinnati, signs are now posted at CVG airport alerting travlers that only permitted ride-share companies have permission to operate at the airport.

SFO inks deal with Uber & Lyft

Uber app

Airports around the country are grappling with how – and if – they can regulate and collect revenue from  taxi-alternative companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and UberX, which maintain that they do not fall under the same rules that apply to traditional taxis that operate at airports.

Some airports have taken a hands-off approach to the problem, but San Francisco International Airport has been adamant that these ‘transportation network companies’ are operating illegally at the airport.

But things have changed.

Earlier this month SFO announced that it had come to an agreement withe Sidecar to allows that company to operate legally at the airport.

Now comes word that the airport has worked out a deal that allows Lyft and UberX to pick up and drop off at SFO as well.

All three companies should be operating – legally – at the airport within the next 30 days and the deals will no doubt serve as a guide to help these companies work out their differences with other airports as well.

SFO makes deal with Sidecar

Sidecar

In a first for California, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Sidecar have come to an agreement that allows the Transportation Network Company (TNC) to operate legally at the Airport.

The permit, which allows the company to drop off and pick up customers at SFO, represents the first airport TNC agreement in the state of California. Sidecar, which is headquartered in San Francisco, expects to begin operations at SFO within the next 30 days.

“SFO is one of our most in-demand places for ride requests,” Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul wrote in a blog post on the company’s website, “so we’re excited and proud to work with them to offer riders safe and affordable travel to and from the airport.”

SFO officials say permit discussions continue with other transportation network companies, including Lyft and UberX, but that so far neither have signed a permit with SFO and so are not legally allowed to operate at the Airport.

Last November, SFO came to an agreement with Relay Rides – a company that offers free airport parking, a car wash and a cut of the proceeds to travelers who let the company rent out their cars to others. A similar company, Flight Car, does not have legal permission to operate at the airport.