BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Uber and Lyft have both reached separate agreements with the NFTA to bring ridesharing services to the Buffalo and Niagara Falls airports.
Under the NFTA’s agreement with Uber, Uber will pay a $180,000 flat fee to the NFTA for a one-year pilot program. This will allow Uber to both pick up and drop off at the airports within established geo-fence boundaries. The agreement allows TNC drivers permitted by the State of New York to pick-up patrons at both airports without any additional licensing of drivers required. This initial agreement is a pilot program that will end on June 29, 2018.
Under the NFTA’s agreement with Lyft, Lyft will be charged $3 for each drop off or pick up transaction at the airports within the geo-fence boundaries.
A spokesperson with Lyft told News 4 that riders will have to pay the $3 fee.
The agreement is for an initial “pilot program” and is limited to a one-year period starting on June 29, 2017.
The service will be available on July 29, the same time that Lyft rolls out statewide. It is part of a one-year pilot program which will be continuously monitored and evaluated.
Airport officials say the decision is due to the amount of revenue they will lose when travelers choose ride-sharing services instead of parking at the airport.
“We need that revenue to be able to do things like pay our custodians and make our runways safe and secure and if we start losing that revenue then we can’t afford to pay as many people which can create a more difficult operating system at the airport,” said William Vanececk,NFTA Director of Aviation.
Some lawmakers say, regardless, the fee is unnecessary and unfair to riders.
“We’ve become the highest cost state in the country for ride sharing to operate and the NFTA just made it worse. Everybody knows that when a state authority like the NFTA decides to issue a fee, that fee is never going away,” said Legislator Joseph Lorigo.
Saturday, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw spoke out against the NFTA’s decision to impose a ridesharing fee. He says he was blindsided.
“I do not trust un-elected bureaucrats to do the right thing and I don’t trust the fact that they are actually telling the truth. I want to see data, I want to see facts, I want to see these contracts to make sure that tax payers and folks who take advantage of ride-sharing are not going to be penalized,” said Mychajliw.
Previously, the NFTA voted to add a surcharge onto rides to or from the airport to be paid by Uber or Lyft passengers at $3.50 per ride. They had also voted to charge ridesharing companies $5,000, citing that the ridesharing services would cost the NFTA tens of thousands of parking users a year. The NFTA is in charge of parking at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport.