At Sky Harbor, Taxi Pickups Slow, Uber And Lyft Hit High Gear

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 5:05am
Updated: Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 7:38am
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Christina Estes/KJZZ
Sky Harbor reports more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart on a typical day.

Since Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport gave Uber and Lyft the green light, taxi companies have seen their business drop. The move to allow ride-sharing companies to pick up passengers was a key in the overhaul of the airport’s ground transportation system.

Sky Harbor officials said the old system was unfair to the taxi industry because cab companies paid millions in fees every year, which helped subsidize their competition, including courtesy vans, pre-arranged cars and limousines.

So, the airport created pickup fees that all drivers would pay, based on the number of passengers. It also changed the rules so Uber and Lyft could move in. 

During Wednesday’s subcommittee meeting, Deputy Aviation Director Steve Grubbs described the changes. “People find it more convenient to maybe hop in an Uber and take it home as opposed to maybe ask a friend or a family member to pick them up at the airport. In six months’ time we’ve seen the pie increase by 300,000 trips so that’s phenomenal,” he said.

During the first six months, the taxi industry had 65,695 fewer pickups than the same time period the year before.  

Pickups by Uber and Lyft, which are classified as transportation network companies, totaled 370,430 between June 18, when they started service, and Nov. 30.