Uber Drives San Diego Airport?


  Terminal Two at the San Diego International Airport.

Bajadock:  “Dinosaur” is the term we used in technology sales for old school businesses that partnered with governments to keep competition out.  The internet allows disintermediation of these ancient service providers.  As the comments sections shows, despite the “illegality” Uber does provide service to SD Airport.

With summer fast approaching, airport officials and representatives for ridesharing companies are hammering out changes to a permit application that would officially allow travelers to hitch a ride with companies such as Uber and Lyft when leaving San Diego International Airport.

As it stands, drivers for the most popular transportation network companies (TNCs) — as app-based ridesharing companies are called in business parlance — are not permitted to make airport pickups. They risk citation if they route around the airport’s regulations.

In other words, good luck getting an Uber home from your next trip.

But that could change. And soon.

After months of back-and-forth on terms of the permit, staff at the Airport Authority believe Uber and Lyft could sign the permit within a couple of weeks, said Angela Shafer-Payne, the agency’s vice president of operations.

The Airport Authority first introduced an official TNC permit application on April 6. The permit lets approved TNCs pick up passengers from the airport through a pilot program that runs through June 30, 2016. Its terms were rejected by the largest ridesharing companies, however, as they’ve taken issue with some of the stipulations — like no curbside pickups and a steep application fee to cover the airport’s costs to implement the new system.

“The proposal contains some outdated and redundant provisions that we believe fail to keep up with technology, ” said Michael Amodeo, a spokesperson for Uber.

After all, is Uber still Uber if drivers are required to manually fill out paperwork? In the permit application given to TNCs in April, drivers were beholden to such a requirement. That particular provision is going away, however, as the airport plans to purchase third-party software to electronically track TNC drivers’ trips to and from the airport.

“Let’s just get to a permit — and make it legal,” Shafer-Payne said.


Unfortunately at least one road block still lies ahead. The parties remain at odds over the designated pick up area. The permit application requires TNC drivers to pick up passengers in the short-term parking lots of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. It’s a much less convenient location than curbside, where Uber and Lyft want to do business.

The passenger pickup area in the parking lot is Lyft’s biggest concern said Lyft Public Policy Communications Manager Chelsea Wilson. “The permit has come a long way since the [draft] introduced in February … but passengers would have to cross the road and go to the short-term parking lot,” she said.

Curbside pickup, however, doesn’t appear negotiable — at least not for Terminal 1. “We don’t see that as a viable option,” Shafer-Panye said, citing traffic and passenger safety as the primary reasons.

While San Diego labors over the particulars of its ridesharing permit, airports such as San Francisco International Airport, Austin–Bergstrom International Airport and Portland International Airport have updated their policies to embrace ridesharing options. The lag is not lost on TNCs. Uber in particular.

At the beginning of the month, Uber joined forces with the Internet Association to promote a cause dubbed “Yes2SAN.” The companies used social media and in-app directives to encourage ridesharing customers to sign an electronic petition to bring ridesharing to San Diego International Airport. To date, the petition has received 35,000 signatures.


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