Uber, Lyft Get Permits to Operate at SFO

UberX and Lyft will be allowed to operate at San Francisco International Airport in the next 30 days, SFO officials announced today.

“We are committed to be an industry leader, creating a roadmap for innovative business models like Lyft and UberX to operate legally in an airport,” airport director John Martin said in a statement today. “We’re proud to be the first airport in the U.S. to have both signed permits from both companies. This gives customers at SFO more choice, without compromising our focus on safety and security.”

Lyft was the first company to obtain a permit to operate at a U.S. airport, in Nashville, while Sidecar became the first to get a permit at a California airport when it reached an agreement with SFO last week.

The transportation network companies, in which travelers are connected through a smartphone app with part-time drivers using personal vehicles, were prohibited from picking up or dropping off passengers at airports when the California Public Utilities Commission set new regulations on the companies last year.

SFO began requiring permits in April, but none of the companies actually reached an agreement with the airport until last week. Meanwhile, the airport has issued numerous citations for drivers operating there illegally.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said last week that hundreds of verbal admonishments had been issued for drivers using the airport while not permitted and about three dozen misdemeanor citations have been issued for second offenses.

Airport security found some of those drivers did not have proper licenses, insurance or were operating a car that was not their own.

Most of the drivers cited were working for Uber, Yakel said.

The terms of the agreements with Uber and Lyft were not announced today, but Yakel said last week that the permits offered for each company were the same.

Sidecar’s permit required a $3.85 fee for each trip to the airport, similar to what taxi and limo services pay, and for the company to track how many drivers were coming into and out of the airport.

Uber and Lyft were mainly in talks to determine how to track the vehicles coming to the airport, Yakel said.

“Lyft will be available throughout all SFO terminals, providing a flexible choice for pick up and drop off for passengers and drivers in our home city,” the company said in a statement today.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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  • mx

    It’s absurd that anyone should have to pay an extra fee to be picked up or dropped off at the airport. If my friend can drop me off for free, a hired driver should be able to do the same. SFO’s transportation cash grab has got to end.