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Phoenix City Council approves new fees for Uber, Lyft airport trips

(Getty Images Photo/Spencer Platt)

PHOENIX — The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday approved new fees for ride-hailing pickups and drop-offs at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Council voted 7-2 to charge companies such as Uber and Lyft a $4 fee for each ride to and from the airport curbside starting in 2020. Vice Mayor Jim Waring and Councilman Sal DiCiccio gave the two no votes.

“You will be told constantly that this is being done for the best interest,” DiCiccio said before casting his vote, addressing the Lyft and Uber drivers who attended the meeting.

“It’s not being done for the best interest. It’s a money grab – because that’s what the government does.”

The fee will increase by a quarter each year, reaching $5 in 2024.

The vote also included approval of a $2.80 fee for ride-hailing drop-offs and pickups at the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station.

It will be up to each company to decide how the fee is absorbed, meaning it’s unclear if it would cause users to pay more and/or drivers to earn less.

The new fees were designed in part to reduce the number of vehicles at the terminals and encourage use of the free PHX Sky Train, the city’s aviation department said in a press release after the vote.

Ride-hailing services, also known as transportation network companies or TNCs, now represent 70% of the commercial traffic at the airport, according to the release, up from 9.3% in 2016.

“Commercial ground transportation businesses are currently paying a fraction of what it costs to operate the ground transportation program at Sky Harbor,” an airport spokeswoman said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.

Ride-hailing operators, which have been using designated areas at the airport since 2016, will be able to use remote locations if they want to avoid the new fees.

Lyft, in a statement, said it was disappointed by the vote.

“This tax unfairly burdens riders who rely on Lyft for affordable and convenient transportation to and from Sky Harbor with funding the $26 million needed to complete SkyTrain construction unrelated to their choice of transportation,” Lyft Senior Director of Business Bakari Brock said. “Lyft will be reviewing airport operations in the coming days to determine the best path forward for future service at Sky Harbor.”

Uber echoed Lyft’s concerns and it said it would be exploring its options moving forward.

“Make no mistake — this action will significantly raise costs and could hurt Phoenix-area families who need a convenient, affordable ride to the airport,” Uber said in a statement. “As we’ve stated previously, we support paying our fair share, but this fee increase is egregious and unfair to our riders.”

Wednesday’s vote included several other provisions concerning airport transportation.

All commercial transportation using zero-emissions vehicles will now receive a 40% discount in airport fees.

Additionally, the maximum fine for leaving a vehicle at an airport curb was raised to $250 plus a $500 public nuisance penalty.

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