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Lyft to begin providing rides at airport

Posted at 12:08 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 02:13:06-04

Passengers flying into Tucson International Airport can now use the rideshare service, Lyft, to schedule a pickup.

The Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) made the announcement on Wednesday, saying Lyft drivers can begin picking up passengers on Thursday. Through the company's mobile app, customers can now request a ride from the airport. In the past, Lyft users could only get a ride to the airport.

Lyft's pick up location is on the far east end of the airport on the curb outside rental car counters. Signage will be added to direct passengers. There is a walkway to the area from baggage claim.

"We've been working very hard on this for our passengers," TAA President and CEO Bonnie Allin said. "We're very aware that our customers have wanted this service, and I'm happy to announce that we're able to now offer them this opportunity."

Vice President of Administration and Finance, Dick Gruentzal, says it took months to negotiate with Lyft partly because the service operates very differently from traditional transportation like a taxi or shuttle.

Currently, taxi drivers have a separate road at the airport for pick up. Gruentzal says it is a commercial roadway with gate access. Because Lyft drivers operate on a more part-time basis, the airport needed to find a separate location for pickup.

TIA contracts with four taxi companies and other transportation services. They pay a fee to the airport for pickup and drop-off. As a part of their agreement, Lyft will pay a similar fee to the airport. A spokesperson for Lyft says they will charge passengers $2 for a drop-off and pickup.

Rideshare services like Lyft are already popular in airports around the country.

"That's how I get to the airport, that's how I get back from the airport," said Kelly Brown, she flew into Tucson from the San Francisco bay area.

She prefers the service because it is cheaper than a cap.

"A cab ride was like $70 and a Lyft was $15," said Brown about using the app to get to and from the airport.

Cab drivers are not so enthusiastic about the announcement.

"Our business is shattered by this," said Khaled Fashikat. He says the taxi business has decline more than 50 percent in recent years and they lose business to companies like Lyft and Uber.

Before Tucson's airport announced they would allow passengers to request a Lyft for pickup, Fashikat says some people found a way around it.

"They're blocked from picking up from the airport, but then we have to accommodate the customers, take them to the nearest motel, and then from there they ride with Uber," he said.

For now, TIA's agreement is only with Lyft. They are currently negotiating with Uber.