Last month, ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft served nearly as many customers at Sea-Tac airport as taxis did.
A new company will take over taxi services at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport next month as transportation options expand at the growing airport.
The Port of Seattle and Eastside for Hire finalized a five-year, $22.5 million contract last week, and the company will take over taxi duties from Puget Sound Dispatch and Yellow Cab on Oct. 1.
Sam Guled, general manager of Eastside for Hire, said his company is working to sign contracts with 300 vehicle owners before next month. The contract requires 75 percent of the vehicle owners operating at the airport to be drivers who had previously been working under Yellow Cab.
Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper said airport users should not notice the change, save for a new look on airport-taxi vehicles. Taxis are required to be available to customers within five minutes.
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The contract was signed as Uber and Lyft (referred to as “transportation network companies” by the Port) continue to ramp up efforts at the airport. The services began offering rides in late March and have steadily counted more customers.
In August, 70,115 people had fetched rides from ride-hailing services (like Uber and Lyft); 72,479 riders took traditional taxis, according to figures provided by the Port of Seattle.
An Uber spokesman said its riders represented about 75 percent of the ride-hailing services market. A Lyft spokesman said its riders represented the remaining 25 percent.
For cabs, the figure represented a 16.6 percent drop from August during the previous year, though overall use of taxi services has grown sharply.
Sea-Tac saw the number of airport passengers it serves increase by about 15 percent in 2015. Overall, more people are using ground transportation.
“All boats are rising,” Cooper said. “What we’re seeing is probably folks not using ground transportation in the past are with” ride-sharing companies.
He said bidders for the taxi contract were notified about how many people were using ride-hailing services during the bidding process.
Guled said he wasn’t concerned about competition, though he said the taxi drivers he works with will likely have to serve areas outside the airport.
“This whole industry has been going through a lot of changes since the [ride-hailing services] came in. We’re trying to make the best of a dynamic and changing environment,” he said of the competition. “But, part of that is the current operator, Yellow Cab, not doing more advertising and being competitive.”