Lyft announces plan to end service at Phoenix airport due to proposed fees

Nov 18, 2019, 11:27 AM | Updated: 4:30 pm
(Getty Images Photo/Justin Sullivan)...
(Getty Images Photo/Justin Sullivan)
(Getty Images Photo/Justin Sullivan)

PHOENIX — Ride-hailing company Lyft announced Monday that it plans to end service at the Phoenix airport in January if proposed fees supported by the City Council are enacted.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who has spoken out against the fees, released a letter Lyft sent to the Phoenix Aviation Department on Nov. 4, which states plans to end operations at Sky Harbor International Airport after the holidays.

“This tax punishes riders who rely on Lyft for affordable and convenient transportation to and from the airport, and unfairly burdens them with a $26 million price tag tied to the PHX Sky Train — a capital improvement project that is unrelated to their choice of transportation,” the letter stated.

The company asked to meet with the council to discuss alternatives before a second vote on the issue next month.

The council voted 7-2 last month to charge companies such as Uber and Lyft a $4 fee for each ride to and from the airport and a $2.80 fee to and from the 44th Street PHX Sky Train Station, starting next year. However, due to a procedural error, the council had to schedule the revote for Dec. 18.

The city of Phoenix responded to Lyft in a Nov. 6 letter, disputing some of the company’s claims.

James E. Bennett, director of Aviation Services, wrote that the fees aren’t necessarily a burden to customers because they were intended to be absorbed by the companies, not passed on.

Bennett also wrote that the $26 million raised would cover more than just Sky Train costs, including road maintenance, signage, technology and staffing.

“If you choose to cease operations at Sky Harbor we will do our utmost to assist in directing passengers to other services available,” Bennett wrote.

Uber has also condemned the fees but has not announced plans to pull out of the airport.

“As we’ve stated previously, we support paying our fair share, but this fee increase is out of line,” a spokewoman said in a statement Monday.

“We are strongly considering all options should this fee pass on December 18.”

Based on the proposal voted on in October, the $4 fee would increase by a quarter each year, reaching $5 in 2024.

The new fees were designed in part to reduce the number of vehicles at the terminals and encourage use of the free Sky Train.

Ride-hailing services now represent 70% of the commercial traffic at the airport, according to an aviation department press release sent out after the vote, up from 9.3% in 2016.

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

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Lyft announces plan to end service at Phoenix airport due to proposed fees