Taxi, black car, and other for-hire vehicle trips to and from the airport could cost $4 extra under a Port Authority plan being considered for next year. Similar to Uber and Lyft fees already in place in Los Angeles and Chicago airports, the extra cash would go towards airport projects.
The Port Authority has already met with for-hire-vehicle groups in New York and New Jersey to discuss the proposed "access fee," which will also require public input, a spokesman said Monday.
"If it moves forward, implementation would not occur until 2018 and funds generated would remain at airports to invest in modernization," the Port Authority spokesman added. Fees would apparently go toward a new taxi dispatch system and an app covering all airport ground transportation options.
It wasn't immediately clear if the proposed fee would be deducted from the driver's cut, or the passenger's wallet (in Los Angeles, Uber charges the passenger). But driver organizations are already pushing back, arguing that the fee would hit their members hard either way.
"Some fares are only $10 or $20 from the airport," stated Bhairavi Desai, director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. "Paying a $4 fee to Port Authority on those fares means struggling taxi drivers would be working to subsidize this billion-dollar entity instead of supporting their families."
"And if the fee is passed on to passengers, drivers will lose airport fares and tourists will spend less on taxis while in New York City," she predicted.
Public Advocate Letitia James has also spoken out against the proposal, saying the extra $4 would have an outsize impact on passengers. According to the Daily News, which first reported on the proposed fee, James sent a letter to Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie urging them to oppose it.
"At a time when access to New York City's airports is already limited, the Port Authority should be focused on improving public transportation options, not increasing burdens on consumers," James said in a statement.
Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang called the proposed fee "excessive" in a statement, adding that the company looked forward to an "extensive public review process."
Allan Fromberg, a spokesman for the TLC, declined to comment on the proposal, deferring to the Port Authority. However he confirmed that the TLC, not the authority, has control over taxi fares. The TLC has yet to see any proposal draft for a fare adjustment, he said.
Last week, the Port Authority approved its largest Capital Plan to date, clocking in at $32.2 billion for the years 2017 through 2026. In addition to partial funding for a renovated Port Authority bus terminal, the plan invests in several of Governor Cuomo's pet infrastructure projects, including extensive terminal renovations at LaGuardia and JFK.