Uber officials in contract talks with Yampa Valley Regional Airport
Steamboat, airport in two different Uber zones
Steamboat Springs — Among the common questions asked by vacationers planning a trip to Ski Town USA is, “How do I get a ride on Uber?” There isn’t an easy answer to that question, but discussions between local officials and representatives of the ride-sharing company are underway this spring.
Yampa Valley Regional Airport Director Kevin Booth told the Routt County Board of Commissioners March 27 that he has engaged Uber officials in contract talks. Asked if the intent was to generate revenue for the airport, Booth replied, “That’s the idea.”
The relative handful of Uber drivers who collect passengers from the airport in Hayden seem to fly under the radar. Booth said a representative of Uber contacted him in 2016 and he told them they are required to have a contract with the airport.
Steamboat Today reported Jan. 25 that Uber drivers here concentrate on the late evening rush, when restaurants and bars are beginning to empty out. A trip to the airport, 22 miles west of Steamboat, is much longer than the beer run in Steamboat, with the risk there won’t be a return fare.
Uber drive Dave Marchand explained in late January: “The Uber app doesn’t connect from Steamboat to the airport or from the airport to Steamboat. They have a zone that is pretty much the city limits that we get calls from.”
Still, Marchand welcomes calls from hotel concierge for service at the airport. He hedges his bet by checking before he leaves Steamboat to ensure that inbound flights are on schedule, reducing the chance he’ll have to wait outside the terminal hoping for a return fare that may not land on time.
“When I go to the airport, it’s usually a call from another driver who doesn’t want to go out there, or a concierge will call me sometimes on my cell,” he said.
Marchand’s preference is to get a call to take departing airplane passengers to Hayden in late morning, then use flight tracker to confirm if arriving flights are still on schedule. Then, he’ll wait and hope for a “ping” on his phone signaling he has passengers for the return trip.
The fare is $35, and he will keep $26 and change.
Pinpoint weather forecasts
Booth also said this week that, when winter weather returns to the airport in November, commercial and general aviation pilots should be able to access enhanced weather forecasts.
That’s because the Federal Aviation Administration is preparing to unveil its automated weather observation system to allow the National Weather Service to issue weather forecasts that pinpoint YVRA.
“We’ve had a lot of requests for that from the airlines and the FBO,” the business that services general aviation at YVRA, Booth said.
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