DC Makes Airport Ridesharing Legal, and Has Advice for You If You Uber…

Washington DC’s airports have made ridesharing services legal and what that largely means is they’re now extracting money from Uber and Lyft.

  • A one-time $5000 fee
  • $4 per ride

Taxis pay $3 per trip at National airport, so the government is driving up Uber’s and Lyft’s costs relative to traditional cabs.

At Dulles airport one cab company has a legal taxi monopoly. Only Washington Flyer can pick up at the airport. They take passengers from Dulles into the city, and return empty. Meanwhile other traditional cab companies pick up passengers downtown and drive them to Dulles… and are legally required to return empty. So you get twice the number of cab trips, adding to road congestion and more importantly pollution-emitting drives that add no value. There’s little the airports authority does that is in the public interest.

Here they’ve done something in their own interest. In fairness they probably do need the money considering the nepotism, poor contracting practices, and lack of auditing standards employed at the airports authority. (The ‘Vice President of Audit’ for the airports authority mentally tracks whether staff complete required trainings, only… they don’t.)

Almost two-thirds of contracts approved by the MWAA worth more than $200,000 were awarded without proper competition, and one contract went to a bidder even though they charged 234 percent more than other bidders.

At New York LaGuardia I’ve found that the designated area for Uber drivers to wait for pickups means that it’ll take much longer than before, and much longer than a taxi, to get on the road.

At my home airport in Austin Uber drivers have to wait outside the airport grounds, and they’ve instituted a geo-fence so that while Uber drivers are on airport grounds (such as dropping off a passenger) they cannot be on-call.

It’s worth asking what value the airports authorities add to the ridesharing process? According to the Post, in DC they now give out the following advice:

    MWAA advices passengers using the services to arrange for their ride as follows:

  • Contact the provider through its app to arrange the ride.
  • Passengers riding to the airport should ask to be dropped off at the publicly accessible curb closest to their airline’s ticket counter. …

Really, anyone who needs the advice they’re giving probably shouldn’t be trusted with a smartphone. Or with Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority contracting records or financial statements.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. I pay $21 from DCA to my house if I grab a Taxi, with Uber its usually $12-14, even paying $4 more it’s cheaper.

    Wonder why not more is made of this: “At Dulles airport one cab company has a legal taxi monopoly. Only Washington Flyer can pick up at the airport. They take passengers from Dulles into the city, and return empty. Meanwhile other traditional cab companies pick up passengers downtown and drive them to Dulles… and are legally required to return empty. So you get twice the number of cab trips, adding to road congestion and more importantly pollution-emitting drives that add no value.” You would think there would be an outcry from all sides over that.

  2. These cab drivers, like all airline flight attendants, TSA agents, and every single police officer, and postal officer, are true american heroes who keep us safe. Right?

  3. And in my home airport of PDX, Uber and Lyft have their own designated island just outside the baggage claim, and allow them to hang out at the cell-phone waiting area. You pick up your bags, launch Uber, request, and in two minutes, you’re on your way home.

    Some cities just don’t get it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *