NEW YORK (AP) – Ever feel like the taxi ride from the airport costs more than the trip there?
It’s not your imagination.
Airports across the country add surcharges of up to $5 a ride – typically passed directly on to travelers – for trips originating at their curbs. There are similar charges for limousine, Uber and Lyft drivers as well as shuttle buses for hotels, car rental companies and off-airport parking lots.
Those fees quickly add up, costing travelers more than $183 million last year at the 50 largest airports in the U.S., according to Associated Press calculations based on data obtained through dozens of public records requests.
San Francisco has one of the highest pickup fees in the nation: $5 for taxi rides that originate there and $3.85 for rides provided by transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft. Asked why the airport needs to charge such fees, spokesman Doug Yakel replied that state and federal regulations allow them.
Airports across the country say the ground transportation fees are necessary so they can pay to maintain the many miles of roads on their properties. The fees also go, in some cases, to hire staff to direct traffic and to dispatch taxis. With the growth of app-based ride services like Uber and Lyft, airports have also constructed new waiting areas and parking lots.
Officials at most airports were reluctant to further explain why they charged the fees except that doing so helps keep airport costs down, which in turn makes it cheaper for airlines to serve the community.