Airports Become Battleground for Taxi And Shuttle Operators’ Struggle Against Uber
Posted at 3:03 p.m. on July 11, 2014
Another front in the car service battle has opened at the nation’s airports
The Airport Ground Transportation Association – which includes SuperShuttle and similar airport shuttle services — issued a warning this week that Uber and Lyft are exposing airport authorities to liability risk.
“For the protection of the airport and the safety of the airline traveling public, airports must insist that they be named as co-insured on a primary liability policy for every commercial vehicle operating on airport property,” said AGTA executive director Ray Mundy.
Meanwhile, the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association, which represents taxi companies, airport shuttle services, and limousine companies, has launched a campaign called “Who’s Driving You?” to aggregate consumer complaints about Uber and similar companies and to mobilize against them.
Firing back, Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said, “It’s unfortunate that special interest groups funded by Big Taxi are using airports to scare the public — the truth is taking Uber to and from the airport is safest, most reliable and affordable option around.”
He added, “In cities where airports are unclear about how Uber can help administrators tackle long taxi queues, deadhead trips, and reduce curbside churn times, we welcome the opportunity to work together.”
Somewhat caught in the middle of the clash are the authorities that own and operate airports. On the one hand, they do not deny travelers are using apps that can make it easier to get in and out of airports. On the other hand, they may have concerns about additional traffic and about car service drivers using cell phone parking lots.
And typically a taxi firm or shuttle service pays an airport operator a concession fee for the right to offer service at an airport and to use waiting areas where cabs or vans queue up. A rival service could in effect erode that revenue source for airport operators. Uber spokesman Bennett said it does pay such concession fees to airports.
The trade association that represents governing bodies that operate commercial airports took a cautious stance in a statement Friday.
“We are actively working with our member airports on how ride-booking apps affect a broad array of issues that airports need to consider to ensure the safety and satisfaction of their travelers,” said Deborah McElroy, executive vice president of Airports Council International-North America. “In addition to ground-transportation safety, airports also are considering how ride-booking apps could affect traffic flow along their roadways and their revenues from ground transportation providers.”