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At Albany International Airport: No Uber Upon Landing

An unsigned agreement is leaving some travelers to Albany in the lurch.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan numbered among thousands of upstate residents hailing the newly permitted presence of ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, which had previously been limited to picking up passengers in the New York City area until lawmakers voted this year to permit the expansion statewide.    "I always talk about, a great city is judged by how they greet their customers and how they greet their visitors. We weren't greeting our visitors in a very positive way. By not having a transportation alternative that exists in cities across the country and around the world."

Fast forward nearly two weeks later, the city has that transportation alternative, but it's not available to folks flying into Albany International Airport. Their Uber apps are useless...on the other hand, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says those familiar with Uber competitor Lyft can easily catch a ride.  "Lyft in fact did go ahead and get an agreement with the airport, so Lyft is legally functioning out of the airport."

Under a plan finalized back in May, Uber and Lyft agreed to pay Albany International $2 per pickup and drop-off. Lyft's pact is signed and delivered; Uber's is not, so, technically Uber drivers are breaking the law if they pick up passengers at the airport.  "So it's a misdemeanor offense to solicit a ride at the airport under Uber. Once it's worked out, similar to what Lyft has done, they're all set. But in the meantime, we're warning all the Uber drivers not to come to the airport, until this is in fact resolved. We will give them one warning, after that, we will issue a summons," says Apple.

Supporters of the upstate expansion of ride-hailing are confident it will be a boon for tourism and reduce drunken driving while creating new flexible jobs for local residents.   “The last thing that we wanna do as far as law enforcement is ticket a bunch of people that are out there to try to make some extra money when in fact, a ticket could be very costly.”

Apple is hopeful Uber will get around to signing the agreement. Neither Uber nor Albany International Airport officials immediately responded to requests for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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