Cabs say Uber, Lyft should be subject to airport fare rules

AP News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2015 4:23 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A prominent cab company lawyer is calling for new limits on airport taxi fares to be applied to ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Cab companies don't mind the fee limits, but the smartphone-powered companies should abide by them too, Yellow Cab attorney Rocky Anderson said. "They get fares without having to pay fees like cab companies," Anderson said.

The new rules come after travelers complained cab drivers were overcharging for rides amid the regulatory upheaval sparked by the app-based services, Salt Lake City International Airport spokeswoman Bianca Shreeve said. About 50 people have reported price-gouging since February, a relatively small number but concerning nonetheless, she said.

The fare limits don't apply to Uber and Lyft because the companies are regulated by the state, Shreeve said. The companies have also stopped operating at Salt Lake City's airport while they work with authorities to develop a set of rules.

"Some people really want Uber and Lyft, and they should have the option," Shreeve said. "We hope to be on the same page really soon."

But Anderson said the ride-hailing drivers still pick up passengers at the airport. Shreeve acknowledged that it can be hard for authorities to tell the difference between ride-hailing cars and regular airport pickups.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said that the company has paused picking up people there. A representative for Uber didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

The changes limiting fares to $25 or $30 for destinations in Salt Lake City are set to go into effect for a six-month trial period at midnight Sunday. They apply to other ground transport services as well.

The Salt Lake City council removed caps on airport fares last year amid changes designed to allow Lyft and Uber to operate legally in the city. But the companies complained the council's rules requiring background checks, insurance and inspections were still too burdensome for their part-time drivers who might work only a few hours a week.

The state took over regulation with a bill passed by the Utah Legislature this year. The state rules, supported by the companies, require drivers to be covered with at least $1 million in liability insurance, but allow the companies to do their own background checks and vehicle inspections.

Anderson, a former Salt Lake City mayor, said the ride-hailing companies should be regulated just like taxi companies to level the playing field, keep riders safe and allow cabdrivers to make a living.

The companies say their services are a unique, growing service that fills a clear a need. They have said that while they don't mind regulations, the rules shouldn't add red tape or duplicate their own measures.