Three months after the Uber ride-booking service gained approval to operate legally in Kansas City, it has added a key destination — Kansas City International Airport.
Kansas City and Uber officials announced Wednesday that Uber drivers are now able to pick up passengers who summon them at the airport. Until now, Uber could drop off departing passengers, but arriving passengers were picked up by taxicab drivers who waited at an approved taxicab dispatch area.
“This is good for travelers to Kansas City because it closes a gap for the transportation network companies,” said city spokesman Chris Hernandez.
On April 23, the City Council approved new regulations to accommodate transportation-for-hire companies such as Uber that allow customers to summon drivers using a smartphone app. The drivers often work part time and use their own vehicles.
Certified Uber drivers had business all over the city, but the airport was off limits for picking up customers.
Hernandez explained that the airport is different from most city destinations because it has distinctive safety guidelines and doesn’t just let anyone park at the curb to pick up a passenger.
Certified taxi drivers wait at a taxicab staging lot and are dispatched to pick up passengers who call from airport terminal phones. Under the new agreement, approved Uber drivers will also be able to wait at the staging lot and respond to people who summon them using a smartphone app.
“Today’s expansion to KCI airport is good news for many Kansas Citians,” said Andy Hung, general manager of Uber in Kansas City, “from the driver who will now have additional earning opportunity to residents and visitors who will be able to easily get to and from the airport at the tap of a button.”
Hernandez noted that while Uber has just reached an agreement with the city, other approved transportation network companies will also be able to serve KCI once they sign the same agreement.
Under the agreement, a $3 pickup fee is added to the rider’s fare, just as with taxis.