When I took an Uber from Downtown Bakersfield to Meadows Field Airport, it dropped me off at an intersection about half a mile away.
From Merle Haggard Drive and Wings Way, it took me about 12 minutes to walk with all my luggage (in 92-degree heat) to the airport’s main entrance.
To go back Downtown, the Uber app wasn’t even available from the airport. It had me walk back to the same intersection, 12 minutes away, to meet the car.
The alternative option would have been to take a taxi–but at certain points, there were no cabs available in the taxi line.
All the hassle is due to a little-known Kern County policy that prohibits ride-sharing apps from taking fares directly at the airport. The county requires all for-profit businesses on county property to have a contract.
“It’s not good for our passengers. That means they have to take a taxi, where they get charged $25 per ride,” said Uber driver Joseph Sarnowski.
True enough, my ride to the airport with uber was $12.50. With taxi fares, it would have cost me almost double–about $23.
“Right now, the taxi companies have an existing contract–that’s what allows them to come in and pick up fares inside the county property that we know as the airport,” explained Megan Person, the director of Countywide Communications.
For companies without a contract, its drivers who drop off or pick up directly at the airport could face a fine of $1,000, six months in jail, or a combination of both.
Fortunately, Person said they are currently in late-stage negotiations with Uber to finalize this contract. The county said it doesn’t yet know when this will be completed, but it’s made, the same contract will also apply to Lyft.