September 14, 2016 9:52 AM
One of the reasons the General Assembly passed House Bill 225 during the 2015 legislative seession was to equitably regulate ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Despite worries that Chairman Alan Powell’s bill was going to effectively put ride sharing companies out of business by saddling them with the same requirements as traditional taxis, the final bill ended up being supported by both companies and in the end, Uber is now being looked at as a last-mile service provider for MARTA transit.
One gray area remains. That would be Uber and Lyft at the Atlanta Airport. Technically, the two services aren’t allowed to operate at the airport, but (wink-wink nudge-nudge) there is plenty of business to be had at the cell phone lot. Now, the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee is trying to finalize regulations that would formalize the use of ride share services at Hartsfield-Jackson.
According to the AJC, the original proposal that would have allowed ride sharing services to operate would have required fingerprint-based background checks of all ride sharing service drivers. This was also an issue in Powell’s original legislation that the companies found unacceptable, and was eventually resolved by allowing either the fingerprint checks provided by the National Crime Information Center, or checks provided by the service providers themselves. The proposed airport regulations will use that approach as well.
In the interest of offering some parity between the ride sharing services and traditional taxicabs, the latest set of proposed regulations would require a $1.50 per trip fee as it already does for taxis. The parent companies would be required to pay $50 per ride share vehicle serving the airport, with a cap of $100,000. An age limit on the vehicles used to transport passengers would be applied as well.
All of this is anticipated in the language of HB 225, which states,
The General Assembly fully 139 occupies and preempts the entire field of administration and regulation over ride share network services, transportation referral services, transportation referral service providers, and taxi services as governed by this part; provided, however, that the governing authority of any county or municipal airport shall be authorized to regulate any ride share network service, transportation referral service, transportation referral service provider, and taxi service consistent with the process used for limousine carriers … and may establish fees as part of such regulation process; provided, further, that such fees shall not exceed the airport’s approximate cost of permitting and regulating ride share network services, transportation referral services, transportation referral service providers, and taxi services.
For their part, ride sharing services will get their own assembly area similar to taxis, and will have to display a decal.
Before the proposed regulations could go into effect, they would have to be approved by the entire city council, and the AJC speculated it could be a few months before ride share services could legally pick up passengers at the world’s busiest airport.