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Thursday, February 21 , 2019, 2:21 am | Fair 45º

 
 
 
 
Advice

Uber, Lyft Sign Agreements with Santa Barbara Airport

Visitors arriving at Santa Barbara Airport last weekend were a tad confused when pulling up Uber apps on their cell phones, discovering something had changed.

Instead of being able to summon the popular ride-sharing company’s cheapest UberX taxi service, one could only call upon an Uber Black — a more expensive option because it involves a luxury car instead of any available driver.

Several people sent complaints to the city of Santa Barbara, which is how Santa Barbara Airport officials found out about the puzzling modification.

Transportation network companies Uber and Lyft have been allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the regional airport for more than a year, but because some drivers have been violating bans at larger airports such as the Los Angeles International Airport, the state intervened.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the ride-sharing companies, recently required them to produce documented authorization to operate at each airport.

As of earlier this week, both Lyft and Uber had signed official agreements with Santa Barbara Airport. Before now, they just had verbal go-aheads.

“Uber has always been allowed,” airport Operations Manager Tracy Lincoln told Noozhawk. “Whether it’s Uber, a limo or another cab, it’s all the same. We’ve not had any real problems with them.”

At Santa Barbara Airport, as long as drivers can confirm a pre-arranged pickup, they can load and unload like everybody else, he said.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft are independent contractors picking up passengers who request rides via cell phone, using a credit card to pay a rate that’s calculated based on length of time and distance.

Traditional taxis aren’t fans of the service for stealing business and because its drivers don’t have to secure individual business licenses and permits from the city to operate.

They claim Uber regularly violates a no-hail policy levied by the state commission — a concern shared by officials in many cities where the services operate.

Just this week, LA became the largest city in the U.S. to allow Uber, Lyft and the like to operate at LAX.

Uber came to Santa Barbara in October 2013, with Lyft following soon after.

“We are pleased to offer UberX and Uber Black at Santa Barbara Airport,” an Uber spokesperson said this week. “SBA is one of more than 20 airports around the U.S. that have embraced ride-sharing choice and innovation, and we look forward to connecting area residents and visitors to safe, reliable rides with uberX.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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