WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Sherry Harriman arrived at T.F. Green Airport and immediately felt confused.
“Honestly I didn’t believe when there were no drivers available when I looked at my app,” said Harriman about trying to hail an Uber. “So I was very surprised and shocked.”
She chalked it up to a connectivity issue, until she was informed that Uber was no longer picking up passengers at T.F. Green as of May 1.
“I know this is a service that passengers like me use, so I think that business is going to go somewhere else,” she said.
Nearby Erica Beauregard sat waiting behind the wheel of her car, an illuminated pink mustache on the dash. She was driving for Lyft Tuesday night, but drives for Uber, too. She said Uber rides use to outnumber Lyft rides four-to-one at the airport. Not anymore.
“I think they’re making a strong monopoly move on being the only rideshare program and maybe getting more people to ride with Lyft,” she said.
On Tuesday, Beauregard said Lyft rolled out a new system for drivers at T.F. Green, putting them into a queue as soon as they entered into the airport’s perimeter. She called it an “electric fence” of sorts, and said Lyft uses the same system for drivers at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
At the same time her Uber app changed, too, no longer allowing her to go online and alert riders to her presence when inside the airport property. As of Tuesday night the Uber app was allowing passengers to hail rides from restaurants and gas stations neighboring the airport, but said “Uber unavailable” when the pick-up location was the T.F. Green terminal.
Uber’s decision was prompted by a dispute over a $6 pick-up fee. Rhode Island Airport Corporation officials say they offered to lower the fee to $5, but Uber refused to budge. The ride-sharing service still allows passengers to be dropped off at the airport.