ORLANDO, Fla. – Officials at Orlando International Airport voted Wednesday on new rules that will allow ride-sharing companies to pick up passengers at terminals.
For years, restrictions have been in place for services like Uber and Lyft. Starting July 1, however, a new state law will nullify the ban at OIA.
At Wednesday's public hearing, the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority called for pickups to be directed to the second level at both terminals.
One big issue for ride-sharing companies was an approved $5.80 pickup charge for each ride, which would be higher than any other airport in the country.
“While we are disappointed that the Airport Authority has decided to implement a significantly higher fee for ridesharing airport pickups than that of on-demand taxicabs, we thank GOAA for listening to our concerns. We look forward to continuing to work with the airport on keeping transportation costs low for residents and tourists. In the coming days, we will continue negotiating with staff to ensure an imminent launch of ridesharing at MCO,” Uber said in a statement.
Many passengers told News 6 they were happy to hear about the new changes, which will go into effect next month.
"I think it's easier how you can set up your own pickup location anywhere you need," Krista McNamara, who was waiting for an Uber ride, said.
McNamara said she prefers to digitally hail her rides.
Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft drivers hope people don't mind the pickup fee, which is more expensive than the $3.30 starting fee for taxis.
"Why would you prefer to be in that filthy yellow cab instead instead of being in a luxury car like this?" an Uber driver who did not want to be identified said.
In a letter sent yesterday to the airport board obtained by News 6, Uber's Florida general manager wrote that the $5.80 fee is higher than any other airport in the country and more expensive than the starting fee for taxis. But the airport board insists that taxis and ride-sharing services are different.
"I was disappointed when I saw this letter that it was referencing taxi companies and doesn't reference the exact language used in this statute," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said. Jacobs said the fees are different costs because Uber and Lyft are pickup services, not on-demand taxis.
Other rules discussed were an electronic monitoring system and a rule forcing drivers to stage in a parking lot near the B-52 memorial park.
The board also approved a new policy that formally bans all types of marijuana on airport property. Although Florida now allows medical marijuana, the airport says it follows federal laws that ban the drug. The airport will likely post signs warning travelers about the rule.
Watch News 6 and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this story.