Ride-hailing is caught in a tangle of competing regulators at Newark Airport; airport pick-ups start at Minneapolis-St. Paul International; ride-sharing wins a big vote in Miami; and an Uber car races the new train to Denver International.
Ride-hailing firms have been going through tough negotiations with Newark’s city council to win the right to pick up passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport – at one point the city threatened to have police tow the cars of their drivers at EWR — and now a new agreement has been reached between Uber and the city. It would require Uber to pay Newark $3 million up front for airport access, plus $10 million over 10 years. Drivers would get a separate staging area at EWR but could not wait at the terminals. But there are two problems. First, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey claims it has control of who can operate at the airport, not the city, and said it might try to block the deal. And second, Newark’s Terminal A is actually inside the border of the city of Elizabeth, N.J., and the city council there is considering an ordinance that would ban ride-sharing firms from picking up passengers at that terminal.
Despite heavy opposition from local taxi companies, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has started allowing UberX drivers to pick up passengers at the airport. The deal imposes a $6 pick-up fee on drivers. Passengers who summon an UberX car can meet up with it at a designated area in the airport’s Ground Transportation Center. The higher-priced Uber Black cars had already been operating at MSP.
In Florida, Miami Dade County Commissioners have passed an ordinance that will allow Uber and Lyft to operate legally in the county – including Miami International Airport – starting in 10 days. In fact, ride-hailing cars have been operating there for many months without official approval, with drivers sometimes asking riders to sit in the front seat to avoid suspicion. But in the process, they racked up some $4 million in fines, with enforcement especially tough at the airport. Uber and Lyft drivers can only be at the airport if they are summoned by a rider; they can’t hang out there waiting for a fare. The new rules also allow licensed taxis to charge less than their posted rates in order to compete.
In Denver, a new airport train started operating last month between Union Station downtown and Denver International Airport. So a local TV station decided to run a test comparing an Uber ride to DEN with a trip on the new A Line train. Results: The train, which makes six intermediate stops between downtown and the airport, took 37 minutes – about what its schedule calls for. An Uber driver made the trip from Union Station in 26 minutes. So Uber won on travel time by 11 minutes. But the cost? A ticket on the train goes for $9; the Uber ride was just under $44.
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