Services such as Uber and Lyft must agree to a one-year contract for the pilot program.

Share story

The Port of Seattle plans to allow app-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft to pick people up from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as early as March 31, if the services agree to a one-year contract for the pilot program.

Ride-service drivers will be allowed to pick passengers up only in a third-floor garage and be able to wait only in an overflow parking area on 160th Street.

“The space is all laid out and painted for it. The overflow area is ready. Our staff is ready to monitor and manage it,” said Perry Cooper, a spokesman for the airport.

Cooper said the airport has been discussing the pilot program with Uber, Lyft and Wingz, but said the program is open to other services.

“Hopefully, they all sign agreements to join,” Cooper said.

Each ride-service program will have to prove they have geo-fencing technology that allows their vehicles to be tracked. The services will also have to provide billing information.

Ride services will have to pay the port A one-time activation fee that scales to the size of each ride service’s operation, according to a staff briefing memo to port commissioners. For example, services that plan to make fewer than 1,000 pickups per month will be charged $10,000. Those planning to make more than 10,000 trips will be charged $100,000.

The ride services will also pay $5 for each airport pickup. However, if they don’t meet environmental goals after six months, that fee will rise to $10 per pickup. After nine months, if a ride service still doesn’t comply, the charge rises to $15 per pickup.

Essentially, the ride services have to match the standard for fuel efficiency that the port requires of airport taxi fleets.

The port has developed a formula to calculate the efficiency of a ride-service fleet that accounts for shared rides or carpooling, fuel efficiency of individual ride-service cars and “deadheading,” which is when cars return to the airport without a passenger.

If all the cars in a ride-service company’s fleet get 47 mpg or more, the port will consider it green and not require environmental review of pooling or “deadheading.”

Cooper said the port’s emissions formula puts taxis and ride-service providers on even ground.

“We’ve heard from plenty of people interested in having this option (ride-service companies) out there. We just wanted to have that level playing field, and the commissioners wanted to make sure we’re managing carbon-reductions initiatives,” he said.