As I don’t own a car, I usually take Uber to get to and from Sea-Tac airport. Back in the day I just took the light rail, but I no longer live downtown; adding the bus connection makes it more difficult, especially at night. Taking UberX to the airport is fine and usually just $30. Getting home is the challenge.
I could take Uber Black. When I lived downtown the flat rate was $55 and somewhat justifiable, especially if my wife was with me. Now that I live in Greenlake, rates are $90-100.
I could take a taxi. Less enjoyable than Uber Black at the same price? No thanks.
I could take UberX. However, the port authority doesn’t allow them to pick up at the curb. This is what I do now, but I have to walk to the light rail station.
I could take Lyft. I don’t know why they’re allowed to pick up at the curb and not UberX. But I find Lyft to have less professional drivers, which is why I don’t use them anymore.
Clearly, UberX is the ideal choice. If Lyft can pick up people at the Curb, so should UberX. It’s also relatively affordable without the inconveniences of public transit. It appears that the Port of Seattle finally agrees.
A press release this afternoon details a new pilot program that will be effective March 31, 2016 to determine if alternative transportation options like Uber can be provided without impacting the port’s environmental initiatives.
Update: Alex points out below that UberX is already picking people up at the curb. This is news to me, as I was unable to on a recent trip. But maybe a policy change was rolled out and I didn’t notice.
For example, Sea-Tac has been served by a “green” taxi fleet since 2003 (the definition of which is subject to interpretation). It stands to reason that if Uber will be displacing taxis, then the port would want them to meet similar standards. Taxis also have a dedicated departure station within the parking garage to alleviate crowding at the terminal. It makes sense that Uber drivers should also pick up passengers inside the garage.
You can read the entire press release if you want, but my interpretation of it is that services like UberX will soon be allowed to offer pickups at the airport. A key target during the pilot program will be a fleet-weighted average of 45 MPG, and given that Uber Black is operated with luxury sedans and SUVs I see no way that they could ever meet their goal. UberX to the rescue!
The rest of this post is an excerpt from the press release.
The new pilot program for TNC’s include these major contract provisions:
- One-year term with 30 day cancellation clause. The term of the pilot program will not exceed one year commencing March 31, 2016 and ending March 31, 2017, regardless of the start of operations for any individual TNC.
- $5 fee for each pick-up trip.
- Operations for pickup will be on the third floor of the airport parking garage. No pickups will be allowed on the airport drives (this is the same restriction as on-demand taxi and limo services).
- Using their software, each operator will be required to report whenever their vehicles enter the virtual perimeters, or “geo-fences” around the airport drives and holding areas to ensure enforcement of pickup procedures, and provide port oversight.
- Each operator will be required to send monthly information on vehicles to track trips, pick-up and drop-off information and other activity information.
- TNC’s will be required to adhere to an innovative Port-initiated Environmental Key Performance Indicator (E-KPI) green standard which establishes a threshold for emissions based on fleet weighted average MPG, deadheading, and pooling or ridesharing for unrelated passengers. If TNC’s do not meet the environmental performance standards after six month and nine month periods, additional $5 per trip fee will be incurred until standards are reached.