The battle between traditional and app-based car services has moved to the region’s airports.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering allowing Uber, Lyft and similar services to operate at Regan National and Dulles International airports. The agency, which manages both airports, held a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday.
As in past public meetings about the app-based services, representatives from the taxi industry voiced concerns about unfair competition and reiterated complaints that rideshare drivers are not subjected to the same level of regulation, licensing, background checks and insurance requirements as cab drivers.
For their part, Uber and Lyft told MWAA officials that their drivers are carefully vetted, carry insurance and provide a service that is in great demand.
MWAA has proposed adding designated waiting areas for rideshare vehicles so drivers can arrange trips with passengers while already on airport property. This would help reduce customer wait time, officials said.
Under the proposal, rideshare companies would pay a $5,000 one-time fee for a special permit from the airports authority and their drivers would be required to pay a $5 access fee for each pick-up and drop-off.
The proposal also would open up access to traditional limousine services.
Donald Griffin, general business specialist at MWAA, said the plan aims to address growing demand for ground transportation services at the airports and to provide equitable access to transportation network companies like Uber.
The proposed rules would also bring the airports’ policy in alignment with recently adopted regulations in the District, Virginia and Maryland, he said.
In addition, the changes would bring the app-based services in line with requirements that other ground transportation services such as taxis are subjected to, MWAA said.
At Wednesday’s afternoon hearing– one of four hearings this week– objections to some aspects of the proposal were raised by both taxi and rideshare advocates.