Rideshare Companies Idling On Invitation From San Diego Airport
Since Thursday, 27,000 San Diegans have responded to an email from mobile rideshare company Uber asking them to sign a petition telling local regulators they want Uber at the airport.
But Uber has been allowed to pick up passengers at Lindbergh Field for a month now.
Robert Callahan, who heads the California office of The Internet Association, a lobbying group for internet-based companies including airbnb and Amazon, said Uber is holding out for better arrangements.
Under the agreement, Uber would not be able to provide curbside service. Customers would have to walk to the terminal parking lot.
"We're close, but we're not there yet," Callahan said. "We definitely appreciate the San Diego airport officials' efforts, but the proposal as drafted does contain some outdated and redundant regulations that sort of create a confusing – and probably burdensome – experience for ridesharing passengers and drivers."
Callahan said Uber wants to preserve the seamless experience that has made Uber so popular — vehicles often arrive quickly and payments are automatic — and points to the San Francisco International Airport. It was the first in the country to welcome Uber in October and allows limited curbside pickup.
San Diego airport spokeswoman Rebecca Bloomfield said in a statement the new policy takes into account safety and fairness.
The Airport Authority wants to provide all transportation service options that passengers desire, but need to do so in a safe, orderly environment. Likewise, the Airport Authority wants to offer equitable opportunities for all commercial ground transportation providers.
The taxi industry has been vocal in its opposition to Uber at the airport, saying Uber competes unfairly.
The airport caps the number of taxis serving the airport and tightly regulates them. Under the new permit, Uber can have as many drivers serving the airport as it would like.
And Uber has come under scrutiny for snubbing municipal regulations across the country. It doesn't use the same background checks, vehicle inspections or insurance most local regulators are used to, though it has complied with regulations the California Public Utilities Commission passed to deal with the new breed of car service.
The airport has been negotiating with the rideshare companies since October. It has also been getting input from taxi, shuttle and limousine service providers.
They argue rideshare company drivers should be subject to the same insurance mandates, fare restrictions, Sheriff's licensing and background checks they go through if they're picking up at the airport.
A lawsuit filed by taxi companies across Southern California, including Yellow Cab in San Diego, alleges Uber's background checks aren't as thorough as the fingerprint-based FBI checks most taxi drivers get.
The airport's agreement with Uber isn't forever. The new permits are being offered through a pilot program that ends in December. So far none of the rideshare companies in San Diego have taken the airport up on its offer.
Update: Rideshare company OPOLI applied for, and was granted, an airport permit earlier this month.