Thursday, August 13, 2015

Uber cleared to land at Albuquerque Sunport

The peer-to-peer ride service Uber has received an official, if temporary, blessing to operate at Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ).

Under a six-month agreement called a “temporary pilot project” announced Aug. 11, Uber drivers will be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the airport but will add a $1 surcharge to trips to and from ABQ. While the revenue from the surcharge will go to the city, there are currently no estimates of how much money will be raised, which a spokesperson for the mayor says is the reason for the short-term trial.

Mayor's Tweet announcing the agreement
“Innovators like Uber are a valuable new reality to our entrepreneurial city,” Berry said in a statement provided to TheTravelPro. “Now, Sunport passengers have the option to support a growing sharing economy through this service.”

The terms of the agreement were prepared in consideration of the pending Public Regulation Commission regulations currently under review by the PRC and in the New Mexico Supreme Court, according to a background document provided by the mayor’s office.

The specter of increased regulation caused ridesharing service Lyft to “pause” its operations in Albuquerque earlier this year.

“We are now forced to choose between supporting regulations that we know will make it exceedingly difficult for our peer-to-peer driver community to thrive, or taking a stand for the right long-term path forward,” the website NMPoliticalReport quoted a Lyft spokesperson as saying. Lyft ceased its operations in Albuquerque on May 14.

Although Uber decided to work with regulators, some public safety advocates remain unconvinced that the agreement is sufficient to maintain airport security and safety.

"Sunport and the city of Albuquerque are allowing underinsured and poorly checked Uber drivers to operate on airport grounds without fully grasping the dangers at hand,” Rebecca Walls, spokesperson for the public safety campaign Who’s Driving You? said. “Without primary commercial auto liability insurance coverage and fingerprint-based criminal background checks for Uber, passengers will be left at risk. Both the city and Sunport could be exposed to enormous liability in the process."

Contrary to those assertions, the agreement requires Uber to comply with several state and federal laws, as well as airport safety procedures, and to carry at least a $2 million liability insurance policy. Drivers will be required to have and carry special identification, pass background checks, and will be subject to a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol and drug use.

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