published on April 6, 2017 - 11:40 AM
Written by David Castellon

Fresno City Council members Thursday morning overwhelmingly struck down a proposal to charge Uber and Lyft drivers fees for dropping off and picking up passengers at Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Some council members openly displayed their opposition to amending the master fee schedule to charge $3 for each airport pickup or drop off by drivers for “transition network companies” — Uber and Lyft here in the Valley — with council President Clint Olivier saying that it would amount to an added, burdensome tax on people already paying the most taxes in the country.

“My problem is that we are adding another fee on them, which will make it difficult for drivers,” said Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who asked that the matter be pulled from the consent items — a group of matters on the agenda that council members vote on all at once, usually without comment — to discuss it before voting on it.

Dan Weber, assistant manager for aviation for the city-run airport, said the fees were requested to make up for lost parking revenues resulting from people using the ride-share services.

Under questioning by the council, he explained that airport officials did a study in 2013 looking at airport parking fees and the number of people coming through the airport and estimated that, on average, about 3,000 drop offs by Uber and Lyft drivers occur monthly, and each of those trips cost the airport an average of $4.64 in lost parking fees.

Weber said officials also looked at fees for such drivers at other airports — some of which don’t charge for pick ups and drop offs — and settled on $3, as that appeared to be the going rate and because it would be less financially burdensome on the ride-sharing services than charging the full $4.64.

That would put anticipated revenues from the proposed Fresno Yosemite airport fee at about $108,000 a year.

“This is not a fee to the passenger or the driver. This is a fee to the corporation,” Lyft or Uber, Weber noted to the council members.

But Olivier was quick to counter that claim, saying “That money comes from the average person — the poor slob that needs to get to his mother’s funeral” who would be charged more for airport rides if the fee is imposed.

“That doesn’t come from rich money bags,” said Olivier, who later apologized to Weber for him and some of the other council members putting him in the “shooting gallery” with their comments opposing the fee.

Bredefeld made a motion to oppose the fee request, and it passed with five yes votes, with Steve Brandau absent and Paul Caprioglio casting the only “no” vote.

Read next week’s Business Journal for more on this story.

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