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John Wayne Airport to Open to Uber, Lyft

If you are coming in for a landing at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, it’s time to pull out your smartphone and use an app to get matched with a driver to pick you up curbside.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the five-member Board of Supervisors in Orange County approved a proposal advanced by airport management to allow complete access to Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber, Lyft and Sidekick to drop off and pick up passengers. The aggressive new policy puts Orange County on the forefront of adapting policies to accomodate new technology. (Breitbart News covered the pending vote in a column last week.)

“It’s good to open competition at the airport and this is the kind of new innovative technology that is coming in,” said Supervisor Michelle Steel, whose west Orange County District includes the airport, and who proposed the motion to approve the new TNC policy. Steel, a longtime advocate for free markets, was also the first to speak in support of the issue at the Board meeting.

Under the agreement, TNC’s would pay a fee of $2.25 each time a driver is connected with a passenger who is picked up at the airport.  It is the intention of the airport to install a geo-fence, currently under beta testing at San Francisco International Airport, that would allow the airport to monitor when TNC drivers, who have their apps on, make pickups.  It may be months before that system is ready to be installed–so until then, TNC drivers are on the “honor system” and must report their own trips.

As expected, the only concerted opposition to the proposal came from Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County, which currently holds the franchise for taxi-cab service at JWA.  The company hired a lobbyist and met with supervisors in an attempt to derail the plan.  Supervisor Shawn Nelson, speaking to Yellow Cab’s Larry Slagle during the meeting, admonished the taxi-cab executive, “You know, you’re in the business. This is the future. And whether it’s Yellow Cab, Uber or Lyft, or something else, all of these app-driven, on-call devices–that’s how the future of this industry is going to go.”

While a significant number of airports have opened up to certain TNC services, JWA joins only a handful of airports that will allow pickups by services like Uber X, which allows almost anyone the ability to take their personal vehicle and fetch passengers from the airport.

Joining Supervisors Steel and Nelson in support of the motion were also Supervisors Lisa Bartlett, Andrew Do and Todd Spitzer.

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