Small ridesharing company begins service from Mineta Airport

It’s being called a milestone at Mineta San Jose International Airport. For the first time, travelers can now have the option to get picked up by a ride sharing company.

Despite being in Silicon Valley, it's the last airport to offer this service in the Bay Area.

Before, ride sharing companies could drop off passengers at the airport, but not pick them up. After weeks of heated debate, a ride sharing company signed up and it's not Uber or Lyft.

Nearly 10 million travelers fly in and out of Mineta San Jose International Airport every year. Many of them would look to a ridesharing company as a way to get home, but none was authorized to pick them up until now.

“I am surprised,” said Annie Hayflick who is traveling from Portland. “I’m very surprised especially in the tech hub of San Jose.”

Now travelers can use Wingz, a ride booking service based in San Francisco that is similar to Uber and Lyft, but smaller. Most of its business is airport rides.

Signs that read “TNC pick-up area,” TNC short for transportation networking company, are now located in ground transportation areas in both terminals.

“This is Silicon Valley’s airport,” said Mineta San Jose Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes. “Our community has asked for transportation networking companies.”

So, why the holdup? This comes after the City of San Jose eased up on strict rules for ridesharing services. Drivers will still have to go through background checks and undergo random audits.

“We have to carry $1 million in liability insurance, which is higher than the cab regulation,” said Wingz co-founder and CEO Geoff Mathieux. “In many ways it's safer to go through ride share.”

Mathieux said a ride from San Jose Airport to San Jose City Hall cost $25. He says that's roughly 50 percent less than a cab.

“No, we are not happy. It's competition,” said San Jose Airport Taxi Association President Shakur Buni. “If someone opened next to you and selling the same stuff, you are not happy. But that's the way business goes. We have to compete with them.”

Last week, the San Jose City Council approved extending similar rules to taxi companies to level the playing field. Travelers said taxis must learn to adapt.

“It would be outstanding,” said traveler Eric Kieser. “Forgive me for being honest, but the taxi services are terrible, the buses are slow. If I can take Uber to or from or Wingz, that would be me.”

“I think the taxis provide better service when there’s competition,” said Hayflick. “I think it's good.”

The airport is still working on approving permits with Uber or Lyft. No timeline on when they'll be able to pick up passengers. One of the reasons for the delay, according to the airport, Uber still has to pay $200,000 in fines for operating illegally at Mineta San Jose Airport.