City Council votes to increase fees on rideshare services at Sky Harbor

The price you pay to get to the airport is about to take off.

The Phoenix City Council voted 7-2 Wednesday to approve new fees for ground transportation operators, including Uber and Lyft. Those fees will be passed on to the customer. 

Right now Uber and Lyft are charged $2.66 for pick-ups at the airport and nothing for drop-offs. It will now increase to $4.00 each way coming to $8.00 roundtrip. This goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

"The whole point of rideshare is to reduce costs for customers and people like myself and if Phoenix is going to increase fees to help another service I don't think that's fair," said Phillip, a rideshare driver. 

For visitors Alice and Daniel, who are traveling from Pennsylvania, the rideshare fee increase will affect their pockets. 

"We would pay it if we had to because we have no choice and when you're from out of town you don't have a choice," said the couple. 

City officials say the higher fees will generate $26 million a year, enough to cover ground transportation costs. Things like roadway maintenance, curb enforcement, more signs, new staff and better Wi-Fi.

A big portion of the money will be used on trains, not planes. The sky train to be exact, which goes to the terminals and is mostly used by airport employees.

"Our curbs are very very busy so it has to do with congestion and it also has to do with air quality because when you have a lot of cars idling at the curb, or going slowly through the airport that reduces the air quality," said Julie Rodriguez with Sky Harbor.

Both Uber and Lyft put up a fight, saying it would take Sky Harbor from one of the lowest fee airports to one of the highest, calling the fee a tax that burdens riders. 

"Honestly I think that's pretty steep," said Jeff, a rideshare user.  "I live about 15 minutes from the airport and to add another $4.00 to my ride that's going to be about 20 so not in favor at all."

Lyft released a statement following the vote:

We are disappointed in the outcome of today’s hearing. This tax unfairly burdens riders who rely on Lyft for affordable and convenient transportation to and from Sky Harbor with funding the $26 million needed to complete SkyTrain construction unrelated to their choice of transportation. Lyft will be reviewing airport operations in the coming days to determine the best path forward for future service at Sky Harbor.

— Bakari Brock,  Senior Director of Lyft Business

Uber also released a statement following the decision:

Uber is tremendously disappointed the Phoenix City Council has chosen to hand down a 200% round trip fee increase on the most popular form of transportation at Phoenix Sky Harbor: ridesharing. Make no mistake - this action will significantly raise costs and could hurt Phoenix-area families who need a convenient, affordable ride to the airport. As we’ve stated previously, we support paying our fair share, but this fee increase is egregious and unfair to our riders and drivers. We are exploring all options in terms of a path forward.

— Uber

The fees will then take off even higher, increasing to $4.50 each way in 2022.

Riders can save a few bucks if they're willing to be picked up or dropped off at airport sites away from the terminal.