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You’ll soon be able to order an Uber at D.C.-area airports without scheduling a ride in advance.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority today approved regulations governing the legal operation of transportation-network companies like Uber and Lyft at Reagan National and Dulles International Airports, effective Nov. 1, 2015. The regulations allow TNCs to pick up and drop off customers at designated waiting areas at terminals, provided that the companies pay a one-time permit fee of $5,000 and that drivers pay a $4 access fee per trip. The access fee, which had originally been set at $5 this year, will likely get passed on to riders.
The approval is a victory for rideshare companies, who have fought to get airport permits like other taxi and cab companies have, instead of operating solely on the basis of pre-arranged trips. TNC drivers have had to wait minutes away from terminals, outside of restricted zones blocking users from hailing rideshare cars, in order comply with the law. Those minutes, they claim, were money lost.
— MWAA (@dcairports) September 16, 2015
“This is a great step forward for both drivers and consumers,” says Duy Vu, an UberX operator. “Now consumers have another option, another legal option, at D.C. airports.”
Vu, who drives a Scion sedan, says he once tried picking up a passenger at Reagan, but that an airport officer reprimanded him for waiting illegally in the arrival area. Though Vu did not get a ticket, he says the incident made him cautious about operating at area airports, where he could be harassed or fined. (The officer told him, “You know it’s illegal…I don’t want to see you again.”)
The new regulations allow TNCs to apply for interim permits, lasting up to one year, that “will give staff the opportunity to learn from actual TNC operations at the Airports over a number of months and, based on that learning, to make revisions to the permanent permits that will be issued following expiration for the interim permits.” TNC drivers can now wait up to one hour in DWAs at both airports before being charged $3 for each additional 15 minutes they wait in them.
The move brings D.C. into alignment with how other major cities treat rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft at airports. Access fees at San Francisco International, Los Angeles International, Denver International, and Houston International are $3.85, $4.00, $2.15, and $1.25, respectively. The MWAA regulations will also allow limousines to standby in DWAs, but will only charge them $250 for the one-time permit fee.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery