THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG
House Bill 132, if signed into law, makes Alaska the last state to permit ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Walker has 15 days to consider the bill once it is transmitted, which may be this week.
Meanwhile, local communities are getting ready for the ridesharing economy. One is priming the pump to tax it out of existence.
Juneau’s International Airport board of directors last week approved a fee structure that charges ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft $100 a year to operate at the airport, plus $3 every time the drivers enter airport property with their company geo-tracking device turned on — $3 to pick someone up, and $3 to drop someone off.
Typically, ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft make far less than taxis operating the same route. Currently, taxis pay $150 or more a year per vehicle to operate at the airport, but there is no additional fee.
A rider using a ridesharing service out of the Juneau airport, heading home to the Mendenhall Valley, could pay $3 on a $10 ride, or close to 30 percent in taxes to the city.
Those who live closer to the airport, say within a three-mile radius, would pay a $1 per mile tax, while those living farther away would be paying a smaller portion of their ride in taxes.
Americans for Prosperity Alaska Director Jeremy Price isn’t impressed that the taxing is so lopsided against ride-sharing services.
“The Governor hasn’t even signed the bill yet, and Juneau airport officials are already looking for ways to gouge the consumer by placing a $3 tax on Uber or Lyft trips. Alaskans deserve better.” – Jeremy Price, Americans for Prosperity
Why the airport board is swinging so hard in favor of taxis is unclear. Whether Juneau travelers get dropped off by a friend or family member or a ride service, their use of the pick-up and drop-off zone is the same.
Uber’s General Manager for the Northwest was working on the issue today and was optimistic there would be a resolution that will allow the new business model to grow in the capital city.
“We have a conference call with several folks from Juneau tomorrow, and I expect this to be an important point of discussion. We hope to reach an agreement on a set of acceptable terms very soon,” he said.
But his optimism may be guarded. It appears that if Juneau puts on a special tax for Uber and Lyft users, those companies will not enter the Juneau marketplace.