Airports are still sorting out how to handle the ride-hailing companies crowding their curbs.
Boston’s Logan International Airport is the latest to relocate Lyft and Uber drivers from roads around the terminals to a parking garage. Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport made similar shifts in recent months.
Los Angeles, New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Midway International Airport in Chicago also have instituted a system that uses numeric codes to match drivers with passengers in line for rides. Lyft and Uber introduced the system at Portland International Airport in Oregon earlier this year. When passengers click in their apps to summon a ride, they receive a code rather than the details of a specific driver. They give that code to a driver waiting in line for the next fare, who uses it to unlock the passenger’s name and destination.
The goal is to reduce the surge in congestion on airport roads. Demand for air travel has grown since the 2008 financial crisis, straining airport infrastructure. At the same time, ride-hailing and sharing has accelerated from zero to become the most popular way to get to and from many airports.
Phoenix, Newark and Ft. Lauderdale averaged the lowest costs of an UberX ride to convention centers.
Lowest UberX fares from airport to the nearest convention center
$14 Phoenix, Newark*, Ft. Lauderdale
At various times this year, Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco took more than a million passengers a month to or from the airport, up from about 100,000 a month in 2014.
“Cars were lining up out onto the freeway,” says airport spokesman Doug Yakel. In June, San Francisco airport moved ride-share pickups from domestic flights to a garage adjacent to that terminal.
Coming Soon: Airport Rankings 2019
Come back to WSJ.com this week for much more on airports, including a review of the 40 largest in the U.S.
Mr. Yakel says his colleagues timed it as a three-minute walk from domestic arrival halls. Many passengers say the schlep takes longer. Drivers say rider confusion over where to wait and how to request a ride has cost them business. “There were some unintended consequences,” Mr. Yakel says.
Similar frustrations are simmering in Los Angeles, where the airport is undergoing a $14 billion renovation before the 2028 Summer Olympics. In October, Uber and Lyft pickups moved to a lot next to the terminals.
Airport officials say passengers can reach the lot with a short walk or aboard frequent shuttles. They weren’t frequent enough for Rich Greenfield, a financial-research analyst, who landed at the airport on Oct. 29, the first day the new lot was in service. One shuttle was too full, so he couldn’t board. He got on the next one and took a seat, he says. Some passengers who had given their seats to older riders were ordered off because standing in the aisles wasn’t allowed.