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After Two Years Away, Uber Returning to Fresno Airport

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Soon, the estimated 1.7 million travelers a year through Fresno Yosemite International Airport can use Uber again.

The ride-sharing company is scheduled to return after a two-year absence.

The city council will vote Thursday (May 16) to grant three-year permits to both Uber and Lyft.

“We are happy to see them come back. Any time we have competition, that is good for the traveling public.”  — Kevin Meikle, director, Fresno Yosemite International Airport 

In February, the council approved a $3-per-trip fee for what are officially known as transportation network companies (TNC) to operate at the airport.

Based on Uber’s prior activity levels at the airport, the city estimates the deal could ring in $217,620 for three years. The city estimates Lyft will bring in $542,700 through 2022. The airport estimates Lyft makes about 6,000 trips a month to FYI.

Fees Led to Uber Leaving FYI

Airport director Kevin Meikle says he didn’t specifically lobby for Uber to come back.

“Whatever their internal corporate strategy has been, they just made a decision they wanted to come back,” Meikle said. “We are happy to see them come back. Any time we have competition, that is good for the traveling public.”

At the time, Uber said fees and data requirements played a part in its decision to pull out.

State law mandates TNCs have a permit to operate at an airport. Both Uber and Lyft started service at FYI in 2016.

Fresno does not charge an annual permit fee, just a per-ride charge.

Uber left in May 2017; Lyft never left.

Uber, Lyft Must Track Identities of Driver

“What matters to us is that we have ride sharing. That’s what the public wants,” Meikle said.

The identical agreements with Uber and Lyft the companies to track activity at the airport, including number of trips and the identity of the driver.

As with similar services, such as taxis, a TNC only can be at the airport to pick up and drop off passengers. Drivers would not be allowed to “cruise” the airport or wait in the airport lot for a passenger’s phone call.

If approved, the three-year deal starts July 1. The $3-per-trip fees go into effect the same day.

Meikle said the agreements are part of the plan to help fund an airport expansion known as the FAT Forward program.

In the past, Meikle has said ride-sharing companies caused $250,000 in lost parking revenue.

“If there were no TNC at this airport, yes, we would probably have something higher on our parking revenue,” Meikle said.

Fees Can Be Passed on to Customers

He added that with the new fee structure passed by the city council (which includes increased fees for the existing parking lot), things will balance out.

The airport now is about to engage in a $45 million parking lot building project that would add 600 spots to the current 300 available.

There is nothing in the contract that prevents Uber or Lyft from passing on the $3 fee to customers. Whether they do is a matter of competition, Meikle said, comparing it to airlines and airfares.

“With competition, it drives down the cost. That’s one reason why we are excited with Uber coming back, because it creates a choice for the public. … I think this is a win-win for everybody,” Meikle said.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email