By Adam Vaccaro August 3, 2016
Logain Airport officials appear to be gearing up to join dozens of other U.S. airports by opening its gates to Uber and Lyft. Such a move would mark a major victory for the ride-for-hire companies following a 16-month legislative fight that included proposals to prevent the companies from operating at Logan.
According to The Boston Herald, Massport CEO Thomas Glynn says Logan officials will need to “create a location” for the companies’ drivers to await rides before opening the airport up for pickups. But he said that the proposed rules overseeing the services, passed over the weekend by state lawmakers, carried “legislative intent … to make [it] more possible for passengers to be able to use Uber and Lyft.”
The bill did away with a provision from a prior House version that would have banned most Uber drivers from picking up at Logan for the next five years. That ban is already in place today — only drivers with livery plates are allowed to pick up at Logan, and those drivers would have still been allowed to access the airport under the House bill. But that pool of drivers is relatively small compared to the swaths who operate without livery plates through the company’s UberX service.
The House bill would have locked the existing ban in place, restricting Logan from opening up to the non-livery Uber and Lyft drivers in the next few years and continuing taxi and limo services’ dominion over the airport.
The final bill, by contrast, allows Massport to set regulations for Uber and Lyft pickups. Glynn’s comments to the Herald indicate that he aims to do so.
It’s a somewhat different tune from last month, when Glynn said he wouldn’t fight a ban on Uber and Lyft because hurting the taxi industry could create problems for serving Logan passengers. “If, all of a sudden, the financial base for the taxi industry dries up, we’re going to suffer,” he told The Boston Globe while the law was being negotiated.
In other cities and states, Uber has struck agreements with airports that allow for pickups in exchange for annual or per-trip fees. Glynn told the Herald there would likely be a per-ride fee here.
He also told the Herald that his prior concerns with opening Logan to the companies were addressed with other measures in the bill, including a requirement that active Uber and Lyft drivers pay commercial toll rates and a 5-cent-per-ride fee the companies would need to pay to a fund to assist the taxi and livery industries.
Glynn told Globe that Uber and Lyft could be up and running at the airport within three months, provided that Gov. Charlie Baker signs the bill.
Whether he will remains to be seen. The bill is mostly friendly to Uber and Lyft, mirroring or adjusting on many aspects of a bill Baker filed in April 2015 that the companies supported. But it also imposes a 20-cent-per-ride fee (including the 5-cent contribution to the taxi fund).
The companies don’t see that as much of an issue, but Baker, a Republican, has been loath to raise taxes or fees, and the governor has not said whether he would find the per-ride assessment acceptable.
TOPICS: Business Transportation Politics Logan Airport Uber Technology
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