Airport inks agreement with Uber, Lyft on passenger pickup

Under the agreement, Uber and Lyft would pay the airport $1 per trip in exchange for permission to operate on airport property.

Missoula International Airport is working to close an agreement with two ride-share companies looking to pick up passengers in the commercial lane outside the terminal, joining taxis, shuttles and other transportation services that operate at the airport.

Under the agreement, Uber and Lyft would pay the airport $1 per trip in exchange for permission to operate on airport property.

“Uber has been operating at the airport for about a year and Lyft has just been approved by the Public Service Commission to operate in Montana,” said Lynn Fagen, the airport’s administrative manager. “Lyft has already agreed to the terms of the agreement and we’re still waiting to hear back from Uber.”

Approved this week by the Missoula County Airport Authority, the new policy divides transportation services into two classes, placing hotel shuttles and limousines in one category and transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft in another, along with traditional taxi services.

The charges apply when transportation is provided for commercial traffic on airport property.

“The hotel shuttles and limousines will be charged a flat fee for the current year and taxis, Uber and Lyft will go to a per-trip charge,” Fagen said. “It also sets out regulations on traffic and not soliciting (riders) in the airport. It gives us the ability to do tickets if needed.”

TNC drivers operating at the airport must present a digital decal through their app, including license plate, driver photo, and the make and model of the car. Drivers are not permitted to park in the commercial lane while waiting for a trip request.

Rather, Fagen said, the airport has established a cellphone staging area where drivers can wait for inbound flights and any passenger that might request a ride.

“We’ve been working with them so they’ll inform their drivers that we’ve set aside a cellphone-use lot for staging, so if they’re not picking up someone, they have a place to wait,” Fagen said. “This gives us an enforcement tool so if they are sitting in front of the terminal, we can ask them to move, because that has been a problem.”