Boston, Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) put forth a plan for a new centralized ride-sharing parking garage at Boston’s Logan Airport. The proposal will move all the drop-offs and pick-ups of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber from designated areas including curbside areas near the terminals into the central parking garage.
If the plan is approved, the new scheme can take effect as early as October 2019. The proposed setup will mean eliminating a thousand revenue-generating parking spaces but, according to Massport, will also mean less traffic congestion in and around Logan Airport.
When these parking spaces are filled, each one creates a $35 per day revenue.
The agency added that ride-sharing services are among the foremost types of public transportation in the airport. These services increased by 29 percent through March 2019 in comparison with the previous year. For 2019, the airport is at pace with the estimated 15 million ride-share trips, an increase from 12 million in 2018.
Ride-sharing services continues to be the most popular mode of transport to and from the airport, and it represents 30 percent of the total public transportation in and out of the facility. Traditional taxis, in contrast, only represents 5 percent.
Last Friday, Massport has also released images of the proposed centralized ride-sharing setup.
The central garage would be on the ground floor, as well as designed with climate control and weather protection in mind. Passengers will have access to baggage checks and skycaps, as well as better lighting, fast Wi-Fi connection, and wheelchair assistance, among other amenities. Passengers would also have access to each terminal via dedicated pedestrian bridges on the central garage’s Level 4.
Massport officials have asserted that the central location for all drop-offs and pick-ups will decrease congestion outside of the terminals. The proposed setup will also decrease the number of ride-share drivers leaving without passengers.
Massport has estimated that the proposed setup will remove up to 3 million vehicle trips using the airport’s roads.
John Pranckevicius, Massport Chief Executive Officer (CEO), has also said that, “We need to move more people in less vehicles.” He further said that the move can be done in a few months once approved.
Furthermore, there would be an increase of the fees paid by passengers being picked up at the airport by the ride-sharing services. From $3.25, the fee would be $5 once the Massport proposal gets approval. Passengers being dropped off at the airport would also be asked to pay a $5 fee.
But for passengers sharing a ride, the fee would be slashed in half to just $2.50 and it’s an incentive the Massport authorities hope will encourage less vehicles getting in and out of the airport.
Both Uber and Lyft have protested against the Massport proposal. The companies’ spokespeople have pointed out that Logan Airport would be unique in the country since it would be the only airport banning curbside pick-ups and drop-offs.
Uber, furthermore, has also said that while it is willing to pay an increased fee, it isn’t as much as Massport has proposed. The company has also proposed Rematch, a tech fix, where the pick-up and drop-off points will be in separate places. But Uber hasn’t been provided with the chance to try Rematch despite repeated requests of Massport in the past two years.
According to the Uber spokesperson, the company has laid out Rematch as a possible solution to decrease congestion and increase new revenues. Its proposal can be quickly implemented with minimal upfront costs to Logan Airport, as well as avoiding inconveniences to passengers. The spokesperson also expressed the company’s hope that Massport and Uber can work on a solution that works for riders, passengers and the airport.
But a Massport spokesperson denied Uber’s claim about the agency’s refusal to have Rematch tested a few months ago. Massport officials have determined that Rematch would worsen the congestion issue.
For Lyft, the company’s foremost issue with the Massport proposal is that only the ride-share services will be affected. Other forms of ground transportation including limos, taxis, and personal vehicles aren’t covered in the proposal. Lyft asserts that all modes should be covered by the proposal, if it gets approval.
According to a Lyft spokesperson, the company is in discussions with Massport regarding better ways in avoiding the numerous negative effects of the Massport proposal. Lyft also acknowledges the importance of the riders’ ability to get to Logan Airport in an affordable and convenient manner.
Massport has pointed out the numerous benefits of the proposed plan. For one thing, it will it easier for Uber and Lyft drivers dropping off their passengers to find suitable matches with passengers waiting for pick-ups. Passengers would then enjoy a shorter waiting period. For another thing, passengers would be picked up from a weather-protected, climate-controlled area, in stark contrast with the present setup. They will also have the option of getting a 50% discount on their rides from services like Lyft Shared and uberPOOL.