- Kelly Yamanouchi The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport continues looking for ways to mitigate problems with Uber and Lyft pickups at new designated ride-share pickup zones.
Over the past week, some passengers have voiced concerns about the airport’s new pickup areas, which require a walk through parking garages to the economy lots. Drivers enter the economy lots to pick up passengers and must exit within 15 minutes to avoid paying parking fees.
Congestion has been most acute on Thursday nights, a peak period for business travelers returning home.
Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Andrew Gobeil said the backup last week wasn’t as bad as a week earlier, when lines of drivers extended from the pickup area back into the entrance to the economy lot.
He said the airport had staff on hand to look for Uber and Lyft hangtags and direct drivers to the correct lanes.
Sundays and Mondays are also busy periods for travelers.
Gobeil emphasized that the new pickup zones launched Aug. 16 are temporary while massive canopies are built over the curbside areas. Non-commercial pickups, as well as taxi and limo pickups, are not affected.
An Uber spokeswoman said in a written statement: “While the airport has the authority to designate rideshare pick-up locations, we will continue to give airport officials feedback about challenges for riders and driver-partners and feedback about solutions for our shared customers.”
The airport advises passengers to wait until they get to the pickup zone to request a ride. But some travelers have run into problems with getting a cellular signal at the economy lot.
Hartsfield-Jackson is investigating the issue and is “looking for ways we can, if needed, boost the signal,” Gobeil said.
The airport is also adding signs, lighting and more customer service staff to help drivers and passengers, he said.
He said the airport plans to build exclusive exit lanes for Uber and Lyft drivers that are separated from the regular economy lot exit lanes. But the airport is not considering moving the pickup zones because there is not enough space elsewhere, and it is not considering extending the 15 minute grace period because it could cut into the airport’s parking revenue.
“We are confident that if the drivers and passengers follow the process… there will be no need for them to exceed the 15 minute period,” Gobeil said.
Uber pasengers pay a $3.85 fee per airport pickup, which is passed onto Hartsfield-Jackson. The fee includes the same $1.50 fee paid by taxi passengers, along with a $2.35 per-passenger surcharge for businesses like Uber and Lyft that use private background checks instead of state fingerprint checks
Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Roosevelt Council said earlier this year: “The fee was for us to ensure that we could provide the service at a very high level.”