Uber plans to stop service to Ontario airport

An over the shoulder look at a female in the driver seat of a car. She is holding a phone with the uber app on the screen.
Photo Illustration: Uber will stop service to Ontario International Airport after an increase in pick-up and drop-off fees. (Talia Bernstein • The Student Life)

If you haven’t already downloaded the Lyft app on your phone, now’s the time — Uber has said it will stop taking riders to and from Ontario International Airport starting Sept. 13.

Citing fee increases, the ride-hailing company informed the airport in August that it would stop service to Ontario, airport CEO Mark Thorpe told TSL.

“Obviously, we were disappointed,” Thorpe said. But he said 5C students who use the airport frequently when traveling to and from college shouldn’t be too affected, given Lyft’s continued availability.

“I don’t think it should change any of their options,” he said, adding that Ontario is exploring partnerships with Lyft that might benefit local college students, such as special rates.

5C students were bemused by the change, but agreed that their travel plans will remain largely unaffected thanks to Lyft.

Ben Langton HM ’22 said he was confused when he heard Uber planned to stop service to the airport. He’s used only Uber to get to Ontario, but said he would download the Lyft app if he needed it to get to school. 

“It seems like they could just increase the price [of rides] if they wanted to instead of canceling rides,” Langton said.

Tova Levine SC ’21, who flies between Ontario and her home in Seattle, called the announcement “upsetting.” But “as a proponent of Lyft, I will continue to use Lyft and hope it services Ontario,” she said via message.

The airport raised fees on ride-hailing companies from $3 to $4 for drop-offs or pick-ups starting July 1, which Thorpe said is “fair market value” and puts Ontario in line with other airports in the area, like the Los Angeles International Airport. 

He said the higher fee allows the airport to start catching up after years of deferred maintenance projects. The $4 charge is still not high enough for the airport to make a profit off rideshares, though, due to associated costs like policing, Thorpe said.

In a letter from Uber to the airport as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Uber argued that the increased fee is unfair and the highest in the country for airports of Ontario’s size.

Uber spokesperson Nick Smith declined to comment on the cancellation of service to Ontario.

Thorpe said the airport is still negotiating with Uber, and he’s optimistic they’ll decide to return.

“Our hope is that they don’t ever leave — we’d love to have them stay,” he said. “We’re open to continued conversation with them … [but] we can’t really charge a rate that is below fair market value.”

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