Popularity of Uber, Lyft mean big changes for cabs at Dulles

WASHINGTON — Taxi trips have dropped dramatically at Dulles Airport since Uber, Lyft and similar services took off a few years ago, so the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is planning to cut the number of cabs at the airport by more than 16 percent.

Documents prepared for the authority’s board show a 6.7 percent drop of Washington Flyer taxicab trips leaving Dulles in 2016 and another 6.5 percent through the first nine months of 2017.

The drop in Washington Flyer cab usage for trips to the airport is even more dramatic: down 14.2 percent in 2016 and 18.1 percent more through September 2017.

The Airports Authority officially allowed services such as Uber and Lyft to operate on airport property — for a fee — in November 2015.

Under the existing taxicab contract for Dulles Airport, three companies provide a combined 720 cabs under the Washington Flyer brand. That contract is due to expire by Sept. 30, 2018, after a total of five years. In the 12 months that ended Sept. 30 of this year, the Airports Authority received $4.7 million in fees from the deal — $2.3 million in per-trip fees, $2.2 million in per-cab fees and $200,000 in other fees.

The authority’s board is due to vote Wednesday to approve the rules for a new contract that would reduce the number of cabs to 600 provided by two companies. Cab companies that bid will be required to offer at least $3,300 per year per cab, in addition to fees of $3 per trip to or from the airport, as well as annual per-driver fees.

The new contracts, scheduled to start with a two-year base period followed by three one-year options at the discretion of the Airports Authority, are expected to be awarded next year.

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