Indianapolis Star, by John Tuohy
App-based car services Uber and Lyft have will be serving the Indianapolis International Airport when thousands of travelers land this week for the NCAA Final Four.
The airport reached an agreement with the ride-sharing companies that will generate $2.50 per pickup for the airport, a deal tourism officials hailed as a welcome convenience for travelers.
“Adding Uber and Lyft helps us market ourselves as a first-tier city,” said Chris Gahl, a spokesman for Visit Indy, the city’s tourism office. “These are the kind of choices sophisticated consumers expect.”
But the cab companies with which the unregulated car services compete said the airport was shortchanging them. Officials said no extra cabs will be allowed at the airport for the Final Four, as they were when the city hosted the Super Bowl in 2012.
“It’s not fair ” said TayeAliou, a manager at Gold Cab, which has 61 drivers. “The only extra drivers being allowed there are for Uber and Lyft.”
The airport gives permits to only 179 taxi drivers to make pickups at the airport and Gold Cab’s drivers have about five of them. They pay $1 per pickup, airport spokesman Jeff Dutton said.
Securing airport access is a major focus for the app-based ride services.
Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the company now serves 50 airports.
“Uber’s availability at the airport is a benefit for riders, drivers and the city of Indianapolis,” Anderson said.
Lyft provides rides at six airports.
Company spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said the service will provide “innovative transportation options for visitors and residents” in Indianapolis and described it as an “affordable ride choice.”
The ride-sharing companies use smartphone apps to connect car owners with people looking for a ride — for a fee — but the drivers are exempt from city regulations that apply to cab drivers, such as commercial and chauffeur’s licenses, licensing and inspection fees, and background checks.
The fares for ride-sharing companies are generally cheaper than cabs but the companies can raise rates at periods of high demand.
For the Final Four, the city is requiring cabs to charge flat rates in and out of downtown, rather than run meters that charge by mileage and time.
A trip to the airport will cost $50 no matter what traffic is like. A trip anywhere between 38th Street and 73rd Street will be $35, as will a trip between Troy Avenue and Southport Road.
Normally, the base rate for an airport taxi trip is between $30 and $40.
Aliou of Gold Cab said he liked the flat rates because they eliminate disputes about the route or speed with which the driver proceeds.
“The number of arguments and complaints will come down,” he said.