Drivers of Ride Sharing Services to Legally Pick Up Passengers at Airport in Atlanta Soon

D rivers who work for the ride sharing services known as either Uber or Lyft will be legally permitted to pick up passengers at the international airport which serves the greater Atlanta metropolitan area as of Sunday, January 1, 2017 as the result of a vote of 14-1 on Monday, September 19, 2016 by the city council of Atlanta to approve an ordinance which sets regulations for the ride sharing industry.

Drivers of Ride Sharing Services to Legally Pick Up Passengers at Airport in Atlanta Soon

There are some details which still need to be resolved even though the ordinance was officially approved — such as the location at the airport as to where the area for drivers will be designated for them to wait in their vehicles prior to picking up passengers.

Representatives of taxi and limousine companies were unhappy about the outcome of the vote — according to this article written by Dave Williams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle — and complained that “the ordinance treats them unfairly and threatens the passenger safety.” This is despite months of meetings in crafting the proposal for the ordinance. “Others representing taxi and limousine companies objected to provisions in the ordinance requiring permanent city-issued decals on for-hire vehicles and limiting vehicles used for airport pickups to no more than seven years of age.”

Prior to the approval of the ordinance, some drivers of ride sharing services had supposedly risked disciplinary action for secretly sneaking their vehicles illegally to pick up passengers at the busiest airport in the world.

House Bill 190 and House Bill 225 were enacted into law enacted last year by the Georgia General Assembly; and they established rules specifically for limousines, taxis and ride sharing companies in most locations across the state — but the regulation of the operation of those services at airports was left up to the discretion of local jurisdictions such as cities and counties.

Choice of Fingerprints or Background Checks

Officials of the city of Atlanta initially wanted to require drivers of ride sharing services to be fingerprinted before being permitted to legally conduct business on airport property, with the explosions by terrorists at Brussels Airport on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 cited as one of the reasons for this requirement, which appeared to not be negotiable at the time.

Another reason for fingerprinting to be a requirement was incidents such as the one involving Jason Brian Dalton — who is 45 years old and supposedly had no criminal history — as he was charged with murder in February of 2016 after a deadly shooting spree where he allegedly killed six people and injured two more people between picking up riders, taking fares, and dropping them off. The shootings of the random victims occurred during a period of nearly five hours.

Representatives of both Uber and Lyft opposed the requirement of fingerprinting their drivers to the point where almost 100 drivers convened upon City Hall in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 to protest that requirement, as they alleged that the background checks for ride sharing services are already stringent even though they did not include fingerprinting.

A compromise was eventually reached where the ordinance — in keeping with language in the aforementioned state law — gives limousines, taxis and ride sharing companies companies the choice of either requiring:

  1. Fingerprints from applicants who want to become drivers; or
  2. A background check conducted by a private employee screener which does not involve fingerprints

Per-Ride Security Fee to Be Passed On to the Customer?

“Councilwoman Felicia Moore, the only member of the council opposing the ordinance, complained that for-hire companies will pass on to customers a $2.35 per ride security fee to be charged to companies that do not require fingerprint checks”, according to the article from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Moore pushed unsuccessfully to have the council delay the vote for at least two weeks to consider the issues raised by the taxi and limo companies.”

There has been no definitive word as to whether or not that concern will become a reality.

Summary

If you have ever wanted to use the ride sharing services of either Uber or Lyft to legally pick you up at the airport in Atlanta, you wish will come true starting next year — or in a few months, to be more precise.

Choice is almost always good for the consumer. In this case, ride sharing services offer more flexible options with advanced technology — and yet can be less expensive than traditional for-hire services such as taxi cabs…

…but how much of an impact the ride sharing services will have upon the taxi and limousine industry as a result of them being allowed to pick up passengers at the airport remains to be seen.

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Drivers of Ride Sharing Services to Legally Pick Up Passengers at Airport in Atlanta Soon”

  1. EJ says:

    Brian, I used Uber to be picked up from ATL last November without too much issue. From what I was told, it was difficult but not illegal to do so. I had a great driver and he helped find me (this was my first time ever having ATL as a destination rather than a layover).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      According to the information for the article, EJ, technically it was illegal because drivers who were caught picking up fares at the airport would receive fines to pay or other disciplinary action. The new ordinance means that as of January 1, 2017, it will no longer be against the law.

      As you found out first-hand, that did not stop some drivers from doing it anyway.

      I hope you enjoyed your visit to Atlanta. Although I am based here, I do not consider it a travel destination…

  2. Al says:

    You can always take the 2-minute tram ride to Marriott and wait for Uber in the comfort of the hotel lobby.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      True, Al; but I am not sure that management at a hotel property in general would condone such a practice — especially if there is nothing in it for them.

      Plus — depending on the hotel property — you could wait a long time for that shuttle ride. I just experienced that for myself last night…

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