Arizona Attorney General to investigate Sky Harbor rideshare fees

For weeks, Lyft and Uber have been in a battle with the City of Phoenix over the newly approved rideshare fees out of Sky Harbor Airport. Now, Arizona's Attorney General has launched a review into the new tax.

According to a statement released by Phoenix city officials in the aftermath of the vote, the new fee structure will kick in on February 1, 2020. Rideshare operators will pay a $2.80 pick-up and drop-off fee for non-zero emission vehicles at the PHX Sky Train Station. Zero-emission vehicles will pay a $2.40 pick-up and drop-off fee instead for pick-ups and drop-offs at the Sky Train Station.

For pick-ups and drop-offs at the terminal curb, a $4 fee will be imposed, which will increase to $4.25 in 2021, $4.50 in 2022, $4.75 in 2023, and to $5 in 2024. Starting in 2025, the rate will increase by either the inflation rate of 3%, whichever is greater.

Currently, there is a fee of $2.66 that is only applied towards pick-ups.

On Wednesday, FOX 10 got a look at the complaint that launched that review, and how the city is responding.

FOX 10 was first to obtain the city’s response to a complaint sent to the Attorney General’s Office. The complaint claims that the rideshare ordinance passed to hike fees for rideshare operations at Sky Harbor Airport goes against Proposition 126, which was passed in 2018 and was designed to protect taxpayers.

In their response, the city says Proposition 126 does not bar communities "from conditioning access to the property on the payment of such fees".

The City of Phoenix owns Sky Harbor, and says that similar to city pools or city parks, they can ask for fees to operate. In the 19-page letter, they note how they do this for concessions, or for airlines every single time they land, even newspaper stands and rental car companies.

City Councilmember Jim Waring isn’t surprised by the tangled legal mess after he voted against the rideshare ordinance last month. Instead, he thinks it’s the massive billion-dollar Sky Train project ongoing at the airport.

"I think the Sky Train drove this," said Waring.

The Sky Train project is still over two years away from being finished, and Waring believes others on the City Council made a miscalculated money grab.

"Now you've got it, you've gotta fund it. I think it's fundamentally unfair to pass a lot of those costs on to people by definition mostly aren't going to use it. They're taking Uber and getting dropped off at the curbs. They don't need the Sky Train," said Waring.