December 13, 2019
By Jenna Bentley

Uber’s future at Sky Harbor Airport may be riding on a Phoenix City Council vote this coming week. And that may mean that tens of thousands of passengers may soon be without one of the most affordable and convenient ways to get to the airport. 

Last month, ride-share company Lyft sent a letter to the city of Phoenix saying that if the Phoenix City Council goes through in implementing a 200% increase in ride-share fees for services to and from Sky Harbor, they will cease operations at the airport beginning January 2020. Now, fellow ride-share company Uber, has sent a similar threat to the city of Phoenix. “If the Phoenix City Council approves the ground transportation fee structure currently recommended by PHX [Sky Harbor Airport], Uber will be forced to cease operations at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport effective January 2020,” reads the letter.

Currently, ride-share companies pay a $2.66 fee (which goes straight to the airport) to pick up passengers at Sky Harbor. The withdrawal of ride-share services there means a loss of revenue from the existing pick-up fee. Revenue from the current $2.66 pick-up fees in 2018 totaled approximately $5,123,181, with projected 2019 revenues at $5,719,000.[1]

Unfortunately, if the Phoenix City Council pursues this money grab, they risk more than just the loss of the current pick-up fee. They also face costly litigation for constitutional violations under Prop 126 as well as potential loss of state shared revenues.

Most concerning is the impact this will have on ride-share users and drivers who rely on their ability to pick up and drop off at the airport. Lyft released numbers showing that 44% of its riders to the airport are from low-income areas, many with no convenient access to public transportation. The Phoenix City Council is asking the portion of Arizona’s population who are least able to absorb this fee to unfairly shoulder the burden for a service they do not use, a service that is unrelated to ride-share: the Sky Train.

We continue to urge the Phoenix City Council to not pursuing this outrageous proposal. While the Goldwater Institute has yet to receive a response to our December 3 letter addressing the constitutional violations with this plan, we remain open to speaking with them about our concerns.

The Phoenix City Council will vote on this ride-share fee proposal at its December 18 meeting. For now, the future of ride-share services at Sky Harbor will remain very much…up in the air.

Jenna Bentley is the Director of Government Affairs at the Goldwater Institute.


[1] Ground Transportation Fees Benchmarking Study: Final Report Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Project Sponsor: City of Phoenix Aviation Department Date: July 11, 2019. Pg 27

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