Travelers at National and Dulles airports can now catch Uber and Lyft on airport grounds, but it’s going to cost them an extra $4 fee.
New rules went into effect Sunday that allow the companies to legally pick up and drop off passengers on airport grounds, but the app-based ride services are being charged a per trip “access fee” that they are passing on to customers.
Under guidelines approved in September by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the companies also were required to pay a $5,000 one-time fee for a special permit to operate on airport premises.
MWAA spokesman Rob Yingling confirmed Monday that Uber and Lyft have met the requirements and have been issued permits to operate at the airports. He said MWAA gave the companies the choice whether or not to incorporate the $4 access fee into their fares; it is not requiring them to pass the charge on to customers.
Uber and Lyft have protested the access fee, saying it ranks among the priciest in the country and will impact their customers’ wallets. MWAA officials, however, said the fee is comparable to what other big airports charge, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland.
“This fee is among the highest in the country and unfairly inflates the price of a safe, reliable ride that hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors depend on everyday,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said in a statement. “At more than twice the fee imposed on taxis at National Airport, we expect this new fee will result in riders paying nearly 25 percent more for an uberX trip to and from Reagan Airport and about 15 percent more for Dulles trips.”
Other airports, including Denver and Houston, charge access fees ranging from $2.15 to $2.75.
Traditional cabs pay a $3-per-fare fee to operate at National, unless it’s a prearranged trip, and they must wait in line to be dispatched.
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said National and Dulles have now joined other airports benefiting from revenues and greater traveler satisfaction after welcoming ride share.
“We recognize that all major U.S. airports rely on fees to support operations and any applicable airport fees are incorporated into the cost of a Lyft ride,” Wilson said.
The airports authority has not released estimates of how much revenue the change will generate. But MWAA officials say they hope it will provide more transportation choices for travelers while ensuring that the “airport operates effectively.”
MWAA now has designated waiting areas at the airports where the rideshare vehicles can wait until their services are hailed through the smartphone app. This will help reduce customer wait times.
The new rules also apply to traditional limousine services, which were previously not regulated by the authority.
MWAA advices passengers using the services to arrange for their ride as follows:
- Contact the provider through its app to arrange the ride.
- Passengers riding to the airport should ask to be dropped off at the publicly accessible curb closest to their airline’s ticket counter.
- Passengers requesting a ride from the airport should exit the terminal from the baggage claim area. At National, cross to the outer curb for pick-up. At Dulles International, proceed up the ramp to the Arrivals level roadway.
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