Aviation

Uber, Lyft would pay per-trip fee at Wichita airport under new plan

Wichita Eisenhower National Airport designated a couple of parking spots for the ride-hailing service Uber to pick up passengers in the second half of 2016. The Airport Advisory Board is recommending a new fee structure for transportation services.
Wichita Eisenhower National Airport designated a couple of parking spots for the ride-hailing service Uber to pick up passengers in the second half of 2016. The Airport Advisory Board is recommending a new fee structure for transportation services. File photo

The Airport Advisory Board on Monday recommended a new policy that would impose a new fee structure on taxis and other transportation operators – including newcomers Uber and possibly Lyft – at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport.

The Commercial Ground Transportation Fee Policy covers for-hire companies, including three taxi companies, eight limousine and shuttle companies, three charter bus operators as well as ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft, which is negotiating with the airport to begin service here.

The new plan also covers hotel and motel and other courtesy transportation operators, which total 33 companies.

Under the plan, which will go to the Wichita City Council for final approval, all transportation operators except Uber and Lyft would pay an initial fee of $150 for a two-year permit to use the commercial transportation lanes outside Eisenhower’s terminal. Included in that permit fee are electronic tags affixed to a company’s vehicles that allow them to enter and exit the gated commercial vehicle lanes for picking up passengers. After the initial fee, the cost to renew the permit every two years is $50.

Those companies would also pay a per-trip fee ranging from 50 cents to $4, depending on the passenger size of the vehicle. Courtesy operators – those that don’t charge their passengers for transportation – would pay a flat 50 cents per trip, regardless of the size of the vehicle.

Uber and Lyft would pay a higher but flat per-trip fee of 75 cents. They also wouldn’t have to pay for the two-year permit, because neither service uses nor has access to the commercial transportation lanes. Instead, they would pick up passengers at designated spots at Eisenhower’s close-in parking lot, which provides free parking for all airport guests for the first 30 minutes.

The City Council, acting as the Wichita Airport Authority, could vote on the new policy at its Feb. 21 meeting. If it’s approved then, the policy would take effect on March 1, and the first invoices for the per-trip fees would be sent to the companies in April.

Victor White, the city’s director of airports, said revenue from the new policy in 2017 is estimated to be a little more than $35,000. The airport currently is not collecting any such fees, although it had done so from taxis and limousine services in the past, he said, but not on a per-trip basis.

He said the new fee structure is “considerably less” than what other commercial airports charge transportation companies.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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