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Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport to charge ride-sharing companies for services

Officials at the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport plan to start charging ride-hailing companies for pickups and dropoffs.

The airport authority approved regulations that include a $2 pickup and $2 dropoff fee for the companies during its meeting Thursday.

In 2015, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation prohibiting the companies, called “transportation network companies,” from operating at airports without permission from the airport operator. The companies have been operating locally at the airport with approval but without regulation.

In 2018, the authority backed a staff recommendation for the $2 fee and directed officials to craft regulations that included designated pickup, dropoff and staging areas.

Airport officials estimate that five to 10 ride-sharing trips come to the airport per flight. Based on that estimate, the fees are expected to generate about $190,000 a year per company.

The agreement designates an area off Dickerson Road adjacent to hangers for drivers to wait for passengers to arrive or schedule a ride.

Drivers must drop off passengers at the north end of the terminal and pick up only at the south end.

Authority Executive Director Melinda Crawford said airport officials will put in more work to manage taxis, ride-shares and other vehicles navigating the terminal.

“We realize it’s going to take a great deal of assets to manage this, at least for the first year,” she said. “We don’t have a big curbside.”

Crawford said the companies will use geofencing to track the number of trips to the airport to determine monthly payments. Regulations require that data to be shared with the airport.

Deputy Executive Director Jason Burch said that currently, Uber and Lyft cars are parking in areas surrounding the airport. He believes the regulations will benefit the community.

“They’re staging and they’re leaving their trash for someone else,” he said. “It’s beyond the idea of just parking your car.”

Authority member Donald Long asked officials to provide revenue information on the program after it is up and running.

Crawford said the permitting program also will examine the use of ride-sharing companies and inform a $700,000 terminal-area plan study.

The study, by Parrish & Partners, will examine the terminal and surrounding area to inform future parking and potential terminal expansion.

According to numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration provided by airport staff, CHO saw a 97% increase in the number of passengers who have boarded planes between 2008 and 2017.

In fiscal 2019, which ended June 30, more than 378,000 people flew out of the airport, a number Crawford said is expected to double by 2035.

Crawford said the study will examine buildings on the property and roadway needs.

The airport recently expanded a parking lot and plans to construct a parking deck in the future.

Crawford said a preliminary report, expected in July, will inform a possible expansion to the terminal. The study is expected to be finalized in summer 2021.


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