Uber, Lyft being dishonest about Sky Harbor airport fees
Andrew Cohn, Opinion contributor
Opinion: The proposed fee increase was after a yearlong study and in collaboration with Lyft and Uber. Now they have launched a campaign of lies to discredit the collective effort.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. And that goes for modern transit companies like Uber and Lyft. Recently, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport proposed a fee for ride-share companies that use the airport.Why? It was done in fairness. The ride-share companies are businesses that generate revenue while using the airport and its infrastructure. However, all businesses that use Sky Harbor pay fees to the airport for rent, etc.There’s no good argument for the airport to subsidize companies that use the airport to generate revenue, but don’t pay a fee for that privilege. All businesses must pay their fair share.
We met with Uber, Lyft for a year to set fee
The decision to create the fee was not made overnight or in some smoke-filled back room. It was done in the clear light of day, over the course of a year, with all parties meeting regularly.
As a longtime Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board member, I have spent countless hours poring over ground transportation information and personally demanded meeting with rideshare companies in good faith. After a yearlong study of ground transportation practices around the country, in collaboration with Uber, Lyft and Board Chair Leezie Kim, we negotiated a reasonable $4 pick-up and drop-off fees.Now Uber and Lyft have launched a campaign of lies to discredit the collaborative effort we embarked on. I am disappointed by the actions of Uber and Lyft and the misinformation that is being spread to deliberately mislead.
Fees don’t have to be passed on to riders
Fact: At many major airports today, to use a ride-share, passengers take a bus or walk a distance to a remote lot. Starting February at Sky Harbor, drivers would have their choice of where to operate: at a discount rate of $2.80 at 44th Street Sky Train station, or premium curb service for $4.
Fact: Passengers don’t have to pay anything extra. It’s up to multibillion-dollar Uber and Lyft, if they elect to pass their costs directly on to their customers. They certainly don’t have to. Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi made a $45 million salary last year. It is an election for Uber and Lyft to pass the fees onto their customers, just as they can surge pricing. Why should Phoenix subsidize corporate overhead?
Fact: The taxi companies that are contracted to pick up passengers at Sky Harbor are regulated. Their prices are set by contract and they are not allowed to pass along airport fees to their customers or their drivers. And they’re not allowed “surge” pricing.
All money collected reinvested in Sky Harbor
Fact: Phoenix Sky Harbor receives zero tax revenues. I’m tired of hearing that taxpayer money is wasted. It’s simply not true. All airport money is made from sales and services and reinvested into Sky Harbor. If you don’t use the airport, you don’t pay a penny. Now that’s the most fair and reasonable proposal one can imagine.
Fact: Ground fees cover a portion of the cost of maintaining Sky Harbor Boulevard, curb regulation, staffing, technology costs and Sky Train maintenance.
The Sky Train was created for the sole purpose of reducing congestion at the airport. It has done its job well. There is now enough room on the curbs for ride-share companies to do their business.
If Lyft chooses to skip airport, good riddance
Sky Harbor is the No. 1 economic engine in the state. I don’t want an airport that people have to wait an hour for a ride.
It’s important to note that these companies consider themselves technology companies. They take exorbitant fees from their drivers and pay them unfairly, in my opinion. This is a money grab. I can’t stand for it.
As a member of the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board, I ask you to cut through the misinformation and support Sky Harbor’s efforts to maintain itself as the greatest airport in the U.S. The evolution of our amazing asset must continue.
If the current ride-share companies decide to leave Sky Harbor, like one has threatened to do, I’m confident that the market will fill the need. Please advise if I should delete your app! Andrew Cohn serves on the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board and is chair of the Business Development Subcommittee. Reach him at email@example.com.