News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

UPDATE: Atlanta City Council to votes to legalize, regulate Uber airport pickups

The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to legalize and regulate Uber X pickups at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The new city ordinance nixes a previous airport proposal to require fingerprint-based background checks of ride-share drivers and instead gives the option for companies like Uber and Lyft to use their own private background checks.

Uber and Lyft had both threatened to stop serving the world's busiest airport if the fingerprint requirement were put into effect.

Under the new system to take effect Jan. 1, 2017, the airport will charge a $1.50 fee per ride for pickups at the airport by ride-share services — the same fee paid by taxis.

However, companies like Uber and Lyft that use private background checks will also be subject to an additional per-ride security surcharge of $2.35 per ride, making it a total of a $3.85 surcharge per passenger.

Each ride-share company will also pay an annual permit fee of $50 per vehicle, up to $100,000 per year.

The airport also plans to set up a ride-share assembly area, and drivers will not be allowed to wait in the cell phone lot.

Taxi and limo companies and drivers have objected to the city's proposal for ride-share pickups at the airport that would allow drivers to forego a fingerprint-based background check, saying that cab and limo drivers for years were required to be fingerprinted.

"We want to be able to compete on a level playing field," said Atlanta Checker Cab Co. president Rick Hewatt during comments at the city council meeting.

Legislation passed by the state of Georgia in 2015 allowed taxis, limos and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to use either fingerprint-based background checks or private background checks. Taxi and limo companies say they continue to have their drivers fingerprinted.

Uber's public affairs manager for the Southeast Nick Juliano pushed for the passage of the city of Atlanta's proposal to legalize ride-share pickups at Hartsfield-Jackson, saying "It's time to formally bring Uber to the airport."

Read more about the new regulations coming to Uber X and Lyft operations at Hartsfield-Jackson on MyAJC.com.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.