Rideshares begin from Sea-Tac Airport

SEATAC, Wash. — Rideshares UberX and Lyft can start picking up passengers at Sea-Tac International Airport Thursday afternoon as part of a year-long pilot program.

Quick Facts:

  • UberX, Lyft service start at noon Thursday
  • Wingz starts next week
  • Passengers meet rideshares in marked area on 3rd floor of parking garage
  • Yellow Cab still operating at Sea-Tac

Up to this point, the rideshare services could drop off passengers at the airport, but picking them up was taxi territory, punishable by hefty fines if caught.

For a trip from Westlake Park in downtown Seattle to the airport, a quick check of websites shows that Lyft charges $28 via its online fare estimator and UberX estimates that the trip is anywhere from $25 to $36, keeping in mind that surge prices can be higher.

If you use Uber’s pool option, you can share a ride and get downtown for $19.

Wingz, which starts service next week, charges a flat rate of $35.

The Port of Seattle will charge rideshare companies a $5 airport fee for each pickup.

Wingz told KIRO 7 that it hasn't decided if it'll pass the extra $5 fee on to the customer, but Lyft and UberX say they will.

In comparison, Yellow Cab charges a flat rate of $40 from downtown to the airport but, according to its website, does not offer a flat rate the opposite way. A call to Yellow Cab Thursday said an estimated a trip to Westlake Park from the airport would cost $47 to $83.

“I still think it's cheaper than a taxi, and for the convenience as a business traveler getting a receipt emailed directly to my expense account, there’s no easier way to travel from a business perspective,” traveler Jennifer Valley said last week.

Yellow Cab will still be at Sea-Tac but will now share a floor with UberX and Lyft starting at noon Thursday.

A large space with 66 spots has been marked off on the third floor of the parking garage past the taxis and will have signage to direct travelers. People will request their rides like usual on the app and then meet their drivers at that space.

Port of Seattle commissioners have set up standards encouraging the rideshares to use environmentally friendly cars, just like the taxis.

“The Priuses of the world,” Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said, “that's really the direction that we're hoping that they go.”

If the rideshares choose not to use a completely green fleet, they will have to participate in monthly monitoring, providing data to the Port. An equation called E-KPI will look at data like miles per gallon for each vehicle, the number of trips for each vehicle, the number of people in those trips, and deadheading. It is possible the rideshares could use a combination of normal cars and very green cars, like Priuses and electric vehicles like Teslas, to reach the Port’s requirement: an average of more than 45 miles per gallon per vehicle.

“There will be fines and they escalate,” Bowman said, referring to the consequences if rideshares do not meet the standards. “That’s another incentive for them to do the right thing and we firmly believe that they will.”