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MSP Airport Officials Hoping To Add Uber, Lyft Services

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) -- Officials with the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport say it is time to listen to customers' demands and make it easier to use services like Uber and Lyft.

Right now, there are no set rules for these types of transportation network companies. That has led Uber to block its own Uber X app at the airport.

But that could all change by this summer, with helpful input from Minnesotans.

"I like that I can track to see where they are and how far they are away," Uber user Elise Wignall said.

It comes down to convenience and cost for Elise Wignall.

"It says to downtown Minneapolis and I live further north than that it's $39 to $49," Wignall said.

That's with an airport taxi. She paid $28 through Lyft to northeast Minneapolis.

"Airports are starting to regulate them as the demand is increasing," Atif Saeed said.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Assistant Director of Landside Operations Atif Saeed says right now, transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft can pay a commercial vehicle premium to pick up customers, but they shouldn't simply pick up and drop off on airport property.

"Anybody providing commercial vehicle activity on arrival or departure curb is in violation of airport rules and if found cited," Saeed said.

In a public hearing to be held Jan. 4, 2016, the Metropolitan Airports Commission will ask for feedback about a new proposed ordinance that treats transportation network companies a lot like taxis. The proposal would charge a $3 pick-up and drop off fee to the company.

"What we did for Uber and Lyft is look at other airports around country and see what they're charging and believe we put ourselves in reasonable place," Saeed said.

Saeed says these types of companies would also have their own designated space away from taxis.

"We are proposing for them to be on east side of outer upper curb so they are away from commercial activity," Saeed said.

Like they do for taxis, the MSP Airport would also require companies like Uber to report information about all the cars and drivers like insurance, safety, background checks and tracking. It would probably take until March for this proposal to be tweaked and passed, then we could see these services regulated and ready to go by this summer at the airport.

We've seen a lot of debate between cab companies and uber throughout the country because of competition. Right now, taxis also pay the airport a similar fee.

The airport commission says there are about a dozen large airports that allow this currently. It studied the impact of these types of companies on the competition in other big cities like Denver and San Francisco that have allowed this for about a year and say it isn't as damaging as one might think.

Of course, taxi drivers and companies here would disagree. They'll also be a part of the public hearing on Jan. 4. The public can give feedback then as well.


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