Ridesharing company Uber is petitioning Sky Harbor Airport to allow their UberX service at the airport.
Currently, only Uber’s commercial vehicles can operate at the airport, because the drivers have complied with Sky Harbor’s requirements for transportation vehicles. Uber is hoping to show Sky Harbor that there is a demand for the UberX service at the airport with the petition which launched October 19.
“While the airport is currently trying to enforce outdated rules on ridesharing services like Uber, rules that stand in the way of innovation and consumer choice, Uber remains committed to coming to a reasonable and workable solution,” said Steve Thompson, General Manager of Uber Arizona, in a statement.
The main point of contention between Sky Harbor and ridesharing companies like Uber is Sky Harbor’s requirement for transportation drivers to pass a fingerprint-based background check.
Uber’s more expensive vehicle choices, UberBLACK, UberSUV and UberLUX, follow Sky Harbor’s regulations and are allowed to operate at Sky Harbor. Uber’s budget ride option, 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 difficult or more expensive for this reason.
Uber tracks the amount of missed rides (when someone tries to get an Uber and is unable to) in different areas. The missed rides at Sky Harbor are six times more than the rides completed in Scottsdale, Tempe, and Southern Phoenix combined, an Uber representative said.
“We welcome [transportation network companies], 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 meeting in September.
To operate a commercial vehicle like a taxi or Uber in Arizona, drivers must pass a name-based background check. Sky Harbor, however, requires drivers to pass a separate fingerprint-based background check to operate at the airport.
Uber requires drivers to pass a name-based background check, as is required by state law, but disagrees that fingerprint-based background checks should be necessary and that the name-based background check is thorough enough.
“If they’re 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 has prevailed at other airports and are continually expanding the reach of UberX. Uber operates in 60 countries and has already struck deals with around 30 airports around the country, including Denver International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Los Angeles International, and San Francisco International airports.
People expect these options to be available at a major airport like Sky Harbor, said Grubbs.
The petition has nearly 22,000 signatures as of November 20. The petition will most likely stay up until UberX is allowed at Sky Harbor, said a representative from Uber.
Uber and Lyft allow people to get a ride somewhere with the touch of a button. Ordering a ride through the Uber app contacts the closest available driver and the fare can be split between multiple riders through the app. Rideshare services like Uber 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.”