TAMPA, Fla. — Taxis and van services pay six-figure fees to pick up customers at Tampa International Airport. Now airport officials have their sights on stretch limousines and luxury sedans that do essentially the same thing but don't pay any fees.
Executive Director Louis Miller has asked the Hillsborough County Authority board to develop fees and regulations for companies offering the high-end rides at Tampa International. The proposal could be voted on in September.
Commercial limousines and luxury sedans made 180 airport trips on a sample day in April. That was one-third the number of rides provided by two taxi companies that together pay the airport $400,000 a year.
"It's getting to be so many, we figure regulation is fair and equitable since they use our facility and are not paying any fee," said Miller.
He'll likely face a fight from operators such as Moshe Leib of TB Limo Black Car Service in Redington Beach. Leib says his company, which charges an all-inclusive $58.50 from Clearwater to the airport, would lose a price war if Tampa International adds a new fee.
"Now, I'm very tight in competition with taxis," said Leib. "If I have to go $1 higher, business will go to the taxi."
Airports in several large states have adopted fees. Tampa International is the only major Florida airport that doesn't charge a fee or require limousines to use paid parking.
Taxi and van operators receive rights to parking areas and dispatch stands for their fees, says Jeff Greene, president of the NLA. Airports can't legally charge limousines for picking up customers with reservations at the same curb the public uses, he said.
"Airports are looking for more ways to get money," said Greene. "They all think limousine companies have deep pockets."
Miller hopes to meet with operators over the next two months and return to the board with proposed regulations and fees in September. The rules would go into effect in January, he said.
Source: St. Petersburg Times