Seattle Ridesharing Lawsuit

FILE- In this Jan. 31, 2018, file photo, a Lyft logo is installed on a Lyft driver's car next to an Uber sticker in Pittsburgh. A federal appeals court has reinstated a challenge to Seattle's first-in-the-nation law allowing drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Ride sharing giants Uber and Lyft captured a major share of passengers in their first year serving the Colorado Springs Airport in 2017, airport data show.

They have hammered Colorado Springs Transportation, which operates as zTrip, say annual reports the company filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

zTrip journeys last year were down 45.8 percent from 2014, the year Uber and Lyft expanded into the Springs, to just 297,569, and revenue fell by nearly half as the company lost $1.02 million.

Trip numbers have declined every year since 2014 for zTrip, formerly Yellow Cab of Colorado Springs.

The so-called "transportation network companies" carried one-third of all passengers leaving the airport, compared with 39 percent for taxi operators with shuttles, courtesy vehicles from hotels and other venues, limousines and non-commercial vehicles making up the balance.

The numbers, which don't include rental cars, give a window into how Uber and Lyft have grown in the Springs over the past four years. Neither privately held company discloses market share data by city, but airport numbers are available because they pay per-passenger fees there.

"We're looking forward to continued growth in 2018 and beyond," said Bakari Brock, Lyft's senior director of global operations.

Bland Rooker, a three-year zTrip driver, said his passengers call him directly because "they value having a driver that is fully vetted and fingerprinted, and who is reliable, courteous and respectful.

"A lot of my passengers are elderly and female. They trust me. I'm a professional, not an amatuer," Rooker said. "For me and most taxi drivers, this is a small business, not a part-time job. I have my vehicle (a 2016 Hyundai Sonata) inspected weekly to make sure it is always safe."

Uber and Lyft haven't eroded the taxi market share here to the extent they have at Denver International Airport, where their share of paid-transportation revenue nearly tripled between 2015 and 2017 to 68 percent, according to The Denver Post.

Lyft started picking up passengers at the Springs airport in December 2016, and Uber gained airport access in February 2017. Both pay a $2 per vehicle fee each time one of their drivers enters airport property.

The airport also is served by zTrip, Pikes Peak Cab, Springs Cab and shuttle and limo services that also pay the fee. According to airport data, 836,548 passengers arrived on incoming flights last year at the airport.

All three local taxi companies have been hit hard by Uber and Lyft, PUC reports show.

Their trips dropped 29 percent, to 394,861, between 2014, when Uber and Lyft arrived, and 2016, the latest data on all three companies. Most of that drop was reported by zTrip, which dispatches 85 percent of taxis in the Colorado Springs area.

Yellow changed its name to zTrip in September as part of a strategy to combine smartphone hailing with its traditional taxi service to better compete with Uber and Lyft

Yellow's parent company, Transdev on Demand, started using the zTrip name in 2012 and has slowly launched the brand nationwide.

The zTrip application allows users to book and cancel trips, choose the type of vehicle they want, get a rate quote that doesn't include "surge" pricing Uber and Lyft charge for peak demand periods, choose payment form, get text updates and track their driver.

Yellow/zTrip stresses that its drivers are licensed, work full time, are fully insured and have completed background checks.

The PUC fined Uber $8.9 million in November for allegedly allowing drivers with criminal or driving offenses, or without valid licenses, to drive for the company in violation of state law.

Uber and zTrip representatives did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

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