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Ride Sharing Companies Get Green Light For Louisville Airport Passenger Pick-Ups

Residents and visitors in need of a ride from Louisville International Airport will soon be able to take advantage of ride sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The Louisville Regional Airport Authority on Tuesday approved new regulations that will allow the companies to pick up passengers. The companies had previously been banned from doing so and faced the threat of a fine if they picked up passengers from the airport.

Dropping passengers off, however, has never been restricted, said Trish Burke, spokeswoman for the airport authority.

The new regulations, she said, provide the “framework” for ride sharing companies to begin picking up passengers from the airport, Burke said.

But there are “two important caveats” the companies must adhere to before they can begin pick up services at the Louisville airport, she added.

“They, of course, have to be permitted by the commonwealth, after that is done we would have to agree and enter into a contract with each of them,” she said.

State transportation officials last year devised a set of emergency regulations regarding ride sharing companies. The regulations require the companies to apply for an operator’s permits, conduct criminal background checks on drivers, vehicle inspections and to carry at least $1 million insurance coverage during passenger trips.

Once the companies receive their permit they can begin contract discussions with airport officials, Burke said.

Contracts will outline ground transportation and trip fees, designate loading and holding areas and define customer service standards for drivers—including "cleanliness, safety and courteousness,” according to a news release from the airport authority.

The ride sharing companies will also be required to pay a “pick up fee” to the airport, just as taxi cab companies currently do, Burke said.

That fee, she added, has yet to be set.

James Ondrey, general manager for Uber’s Kentucky region, spoke at the Louisville Forum in Decemberand said the company is not looking to replace taxi cabs in the city.

“We want to be seen as an alternative transportation option,” he said.  “Taxi has not ceased to exist in any city in which we are in.”

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.