Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority board members on Monday were ironing out a few last wrinkles in an agreement with Uber to strengthen regulations for drivers picking up or dropping off riders at the Burbank airfield, which officials hope will lead to greater compliance and increased revenues.
At least two Uber competitors, Lyft and Wingz, had signed similar contracts as of last week. Uber officials had objected to minor points, mostly related to tweaks in the agreement’s language, which airport officials on Monday agreed to change.
The growing popularity of ride services, which allow users to hail a car ride via smartphone often for much cheaper than a taxi, has been cutting into the airport’s parking revenues as potentially hundreds of travelers each week opt not to drive themselves, officials have said.
The airport’s rules for rideshare pick-ups are designed to help offset those losses, and the new agreement, which officials have been working to implement since November, is meant to curb rule-breaking and eliminate inconveniences they cause, such as traffic congestion in front of the terminal building or elsewhere on airport property.
Officials have said drivers are skirting this requirement to avoid paying the parking fee, thus depriving the airport of revenue and causing traffic problems. Riders may still be charged an extra $3 in the app to reimburse drivers for the fee, which drivers could be pocketing instead.
Under the new agreement, if drivers are caught making improper pick-ups or violating other rules six times in 60 days, the company’s access will be denied for six months. Another six violations could result in a permanent denial of access.
An earlier version of the agreement had proposed a “three strikes” policy, but the limit was doubled after rideshare firms objected to what they felt was a small number for “minor” violations, said John T. Hatanaka, the airport’s senior deputy executive director. He said the violations may seem minor, but for a small airfield like Bob Hope Airport, they have big impacts.
Uber representatives said their smartphone app can be used to inform drivers of the airport rules. It also has built-in technology that uses geolocation data to determine fees owed to other airports, such as at Los Angeles International Airport, which charges $4 fees for each pick-up or drop-off, said Daniel Shlossman, who works for Uber in Los Angeles.
There is no fee yet for drop-offs at Bob Hope Airport, which are allowed at the curbside, though Frank Quintero, president of the authority board, said board members should consider closing that “loop” to offset the parking-revenue loss.
While authority members did not seek Uber’s geolocation data, they strongly suggested the company use it to discipline drivers before the airport does. Laura Friedman, a Glendale commissioner, said if the company is worried about losing access for minor violations, it should use the data to ensure compliance with airport rules.
“Absolutely,” said Kellyn Blossom, public policy manager with Uber. “We are committed to compliance.”
Chad Garland, email@example.com