Louisville airport board moves to allow pickups by Uber, Lyft - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville airport board moves to allow pickups by Uber, Lyft

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft soon will be able to pick up passengers from Louisville's airport.

At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, the Louisville Regional Airport Authority unanimously approved regulations that will allow the pickups. Anyone can drop off passengers, but officials previously have restricted rides from the airport to two taxi companies that have a franchise agreement.

Uber and Lyft entered the Louisville market last spring. Unlike traditional tax services, the companies' drivers accept rides via a smartphone app and use their personal vehicles.

“We want to make sure that the broader public has access to our airport in whatever way they want to get here,” said Jim Welch, the authority's chairman.

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Under the regulations, ride-sharing drivers must apply for permits issued by the authority before they can operate at the airport and display the permit on their windshields. Drivers also must be willing to prove to airport officials that they have accepted a ride through the smartphone app.

Ride-sharing companies will be required to submit a monthly report showing all pickups at the airport and pay a $2 fee per trip – higher than the $1.25 fee for taxi operators.

Skip Miller, the authority's executive director, said the higher fee is an attempt to maintain parity with taxi operators that have “starter booths” at the airport. The ride-sharing companies won't have those booths.

“They don't have to own, operate and maintain (the booths), so they save that amount of money, and so we're going to charge that little bit higher per-trip fee,” Miller said.

The airport plans to establish four waiting areas for ride-sharing drivers and use the cell phone lot as a staging area where drivers also can wait.

Miller said Louisville is in the “first third” of U.S. airports that have crafted regulations for ride-sharing companies. Airports in Nashville and San Francisco, for example, have enacted similar rules and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is drafting its own guidelines, Louisville officials said.

“I think we have been able to benefit from some of the early airports that have gotten into this situation,” Miller said. “We've been able to watch and learn from them.”

He also said it's been “extremely helpful” that Kentucky aggressively moved to regulate ride-sharing companies. In December, the state enacted emergency rules that include driver background checks and requirements for insurance and vehicle inspections.

Ride-sharing companies now must be licensed to do business in Kentucky. Miller said none of the firms have been approved to operate in the state and the airport won't sign pickup contracts until that happens.

The airport's exclusive pickup agreements with Yellow Cab and Ready Cab generate an estimated $50,000 a year. The regulations approved Tuesday won't allow other cab companies to pick up passengers, Miller said.

“That is a franchise that we have,” he said. “That's a bid process that we go through and we've limited that bid franchise to two companies.”

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