San Francisco International Airport is now allowing the three major on-demand transportation startups to pick up and drop off passengers on its property.
“We are committed to be an industry leader, creating a roadmap for innovative business models like Lyft and UberX to operate legally in an airport,” SFO Airport Director John L. Martin said in a statement. “We’re proud to be the first airport in the U.S. to have both signed permits from both companies. This gives customers at SFO more choice, without compromising our focus on safety and security.”
Officials had previously warned Sidecar, uberX, and Lyft to stop operating at the airport, where only those with permits were allowed to conduct business.
Now, though, all three will now be able to pick up and drop off. However, while Sidecar is still banned from using its Shared Rides feature at SFO — which lets people carpool with others who are riding on similar routes — Uber said today in a conference call that its UberPool feature will be available for those coming to and from SFO.
“This is another example of a technology company being able to change the game on how transportation works at an airport because of the way we geofence and accurately understand the number of cars that go in and out,” Ryan Graves, Uber’s head of global operations, said today on a conference call. “We are able to help bring a level of innovation that hasn’t been there before.”
It’s unclear if Lyft is allowed to use its LyftLine service — the company’s own carpooling feature — and we’ve reached out to confirm. Graves noted that users in San Francisco are adopting UberPool “at an incredible rate.”
Uber spokesperson Lane Kasselman added that while taxi drivers have had to use physical transponders inside their vehicles to record when they enter and exit airport property, Uber is able to record that through its app.
“That results in us being able to automatically deliver payment to the airport seamlessly,” Kasselman said. “It’s a modernization of problems that airports have had to deal with for a long time.”
This is Lyft’s second deal it has made with an airport, as the company was approved to conduct business at Nashville International last month.
Meanwhile in Seattle, it still remains illegal for uberX, Lyft, or Sidecar to pick up passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:25 p.m. with information about SFO also allowing uberX to operate at the airport.
Update, 7:10 p.m. — Lyft said that its Lyft Line will be available to passengers at SFO.