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Business/Economy

New fees for Uber and Lyft rides proposed at Anchorage and Fairbanks airports

Alaska passed legislation allowing Uber and Lyft to operate in the state in June. (Loren Holmes / ADN archive)

People taking Uber and Lyft to and from the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports will be charged $3 per ride under a new fee scheduled to take effect next month.

The state is set to enact the proposed fee starting Feb. 1, "however consideration will be given to written public comments filed in response to the notice," wrote Shannon McCarthy, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Public comment must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 31.

The fee will be levied on "transportation network companies" such as Uber and Lyft, wrote McCarthy.

Uber and Lyft are app-based transportation services through which people can hail a ride using their smartphones. In June, Gov. Bill Walker signed a bill allowing the companies to operate in Alaska.

The companies will charge riders the fee, which will automatically be added to each trip fare. Uber and Lyft in turn will pay the airports.

The new fee does not affect taxis. Cabs and limousines already pay an annual fee of $75 for an airport permit, according to McCarthy.

For now, the new fee only applies to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Fairbanks International Airport, which are run by the state as a single entity. Other state-owned airports may enact similar charges in the future, McCarthy wrote.

Revenue from the fees will be used to maintain and operate the two airports, McCarthy wrote.

Fees for Uber and Lyft riders are common in airports around the country. In Washington D.C., airports have charged a $4 fee for riders since 2015, The Washington Post reported. Some airports in other parts of the country charge lower fees, from $1.25 to $2.75, according to the report.

Alaska officials arrived at the $3 fee after researching what other states have done, according to McCarthy.

Scott Coriell, communications manager for Lyft, said in an email that "we look forward to engaging further with state officials on this issue and working toward a fee that is fair, reasonable, and in line with airports of a similar size."

Nathan Hambley, an Uber spokesman, wrote in an email that the company was "supportive of a per-trip fee at the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports and are currently working with airport authorities to determine the appropriate amount and structure of that fee."

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that airports in Washington state charge $4 per ride. That was incorrect; the cited article refers to airports in Washington D.C. 

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