Orlando airport authority lifts OIA restrictions on Uber, Lyft drivers

By Erin Murray and Jerry Hume, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 9:16 PM EDT

It will soon be easier for air travelers to find a ride to and from Orlando International Airport

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority members on Wednesday unanimously voted to lift rules restricting Uber and Lyft drivers from dropping off and picking up travelers at Orlando International Airport.

The ban will end July 1. Ride-sharing companies also will face a pickup fee of $5.80 cents, just like taxi companies.

Uber and Lyft drivers will be allowed to drop off and pick up on the second level of the airport. The system will work much like the current taxi system now, with a pickup area and a staging area.

Isaac Hernandez of Access Transportation spoke on behalf of the taxi industry Wednesday afternoon, saying Uber and Lyft should not be exempt from the pickup fee.

“They are just looking to do and make money for a select few people, as opposed to provide a service, and so let’s avoid losing money, as a community, as an airport,” he said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said ride-sharing companies will have to pay their fair share to operate at the airport.

“We have to accommodate whoever is coming to pick somebody up, but they’ll also have to pay. There’s a surcharge that every taxi ride or limo ride pays when they pick somebody up at the airport, and that’s a big funding piece that helps us keep airfares low,” Dyer said.

Dyer also thinks congestion is a concern.

“The airport is already at capacity, so having all those different forms of ground transportation is a bit of a challenge,” he said.

Some Uber and Lyft drivers have skirted the system by coming up to the pickup point to get riders to avoid the fee. But to make sure they can’t, there will be a "geofence" to catch those drivers.

Before the vote, only a few ride-sharing drivers were allowed at the airport under UberBlack, a luxury service from the Uber app. But a new state law, CS/HB 221, also known as the "Uber/Lyft Bill," signed by Gov. Rick Scott in early May forced the airport to accommodate all forms of ride-sharing services.

“That’s awesome, because up until now, that has been a stronghold for taxis,” Lyft driver Vince Lambiase said.

Javi Correoso, public affairs manager for Uber Florida, issued this statement Wednesday:

“While we are disappointed that the Airport Authority has decided to implement a significantly higher fee for ridesharing airport pickups than that of on-demand taxicabs, we thank GOAA for listening to our concerns. We look forward to continuing to work with the airport on keeping transportation costs low for residents and tourists. In the coming days, we will continue negotiating with staff to ensure an imminent launch of ridesharing at MCO.”

All uses of marijuana banned

The GOAA board also voted Wednesday to prohibit passengers from having marijuana at Orlando International Airport. The ban includes medical marijuana, despite November's "yes" vote on Amendment 2, legalizing medical marijuana use in Florida.

Because marijuana is federally illegal, the airport wouldn't be eligible for certain federal grants if it allowed it, GOAA said. If a passenger is found to have marijuana, federal authorities would be responsible for enforcement, GOAA said.