Tag Archives: Steve Grubbs

Significant Infrastructure - AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

Sky Harbor looks to strike deal with Uber, Lyft

Sky Harbor Airport is trying to reach a compromise with transportation network companies, like Uber and Lyft, to allow them to operate at the airport.

Currently, only approved commercial Uber vehicles can operate at the airport, because the drivers have complied with Sky Harbor’s requirements for transportation vehicles. The major point of contention between transportation network companies and Sky Harbor is Sky Harbor’s requirement for commercial drivers to pass its fingerprint-based background check. 

“We welcome TNCs, we just want them to follow our procedures here at the airport,” said Steve Grubbs, Sky Harbor’s Deputy Aviation Director of Operations, at the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board’s meeting this month.

Uber’s more expensive and luxurious vehicles, UberBLACK, UberSUV, and UberLUX, are commercial vehicles and follow Sky Harbor’s regulations. Uber’s budget category, UberX, is operated by individuals using their everyday cars and is currently not allowed to operate at Sky Harbor. Getting an Uber at Sky Harbor may be more expensive than usual for this reason.

To operate a commercial vehicle like a taxi or Uber vehicle in Arizona, drivers must pass a name-based background check. Sky Harbor, however, requires drivers to pass a fingerprint-based background check to operate at the airport.

Uber and Lyft require drivers to pass a name-based background check, as is required by state law, but disagree that fingerprint-based background checks should be necessary.

“Fingerprints are a regulatory burden that bring an increased cost, as well as create barriers to entry for many drivers,” said Timothy Burr, government relations manager for Lyft, to the Phoenix Aviation Advisory Board at the meeting last month. Burr said fingerprint-based background checks added burden with no benefit given that drivers already went through a thorough screening process.

Burr said that the fees associated with additional background checks prevent many drivers from pursuing airport authorization. Sky Harbor charges $39 for a fingerprint background check, said Grubbs.

“If their qualified to drive me around town in the middle of the night, they can drive me to the airport,” said Ryan Dotson, a frequent Uber user, about Sky Harbor’s background check policy.

Uber, which was founded in 2009, operates in 60 countries, according to their website. Uber and other transportation network companies have already struck deals with other airports around the country, including Denver International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Los Angeles International, and San Francisco International airports, said Grubbs.

People expect these options to be available at a major airport like Sky Harbor, said Grubbs.

Uber and Lyft allow people to get a ride somewhere with the touch of a button. Ordering a ride through Uber or Lyft’s apps contacts the closest available driver. These rideshare services have become popular for their speed, convenience, and low cost.

“Uber cost me $33 to get to the airport. Coming back home, I couldn’t get an Uber so I had to take a taxi which costed $68 for the same distance,” said Stephanie Cain about her first experience with Uber. “I definitely want the option of Uber at Sky Harbor. It’s much cheaper and way more convenient.”

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Sky Harbor Now Offers Early Bag Check

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is bringing its popular Early Bag Check service to the Rental Car Center. The free service, already available at Sky Harbor’s East Economy Parking and 44th Street PHX Sky Train® station, officially launched this week. Travelers flying American Airlines, Southwest Airlines or US Airways can now check their luggage immediately after returning their rental car, avoiding the hassle of carrying large suitcases onto a shuttle bus and into the airport terminal. Bags must be checked at least 90 minutes before the scheduled flight departure. There is no additional charge for the service, although airline baggage fees apply.

Sky Harbor’s Early Bag Check has already processed more than 100,000 pieces of luggage at East Economy Parking and the 44th Street PHX Sky Train® Station since the service began in late 2012. “We have received tremendous feedback from travelers who have used our Early Bag Check service and we felt it was important to offer this amenity to our rental car customers,” said Steve Grubbs, Acting Deputy Aviation Director for Operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor. “At the end of a vacation or a business trip, we want passengers to have the convenience of checking their luggage early and walking directly to the security checkpoint.”

In addition to checking bags, customers on American, Southwest and US Airways can also have a boarding pass printed at the Early Bag Check Counters. The service is conveniently located near the north and south exits on the customer service level at the Rental Car Center. Customers will walk past the Early Bag Check counters as they exit the Rental Car Center on the way to their shuttles. Early Bag Check in the Sky Harbor Rental Car Center will be open daily from 5 a.m. – 6 p.m.

For additional information visit skyharbor.com/earlybagcheck.