Long waits mar new Uber, Lyft pickup plan at Hartsfield-Jackson

5:04 p.m Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 Business
The line of Uber and Lyft drivers at 11:36 p.m. Thursday waiting to enter Hartsfield-Jackson’s economy lot to pick up passengers. Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

The Atlanta airport’s new ride-share pickup location drew complaints from both drivers and passengers after long waits and traffic backups Thursday, when many fliers return from business trips.

During the peak Thursday night period, some passengers said they waited as long as 40 minutes or more for ride-share drivers to reach them after being stuck in long lines of vehicles trying to enter the economy parking lot.

Ride-share drivers also had to pay parking fees for exceeding the 15-minute grace period for entering and leaving the lot without a charge. 

An airport spokesman called the situation “unfortunate” and apologized to those affected, adding an airport team met Friday to consider “various mitigation efforts.”

The airport plans to keep the pickup locations where they are, spokesman Andy Gobeil said. One option being considered is an alternate way to exit the economy lot, along with other possible fixes.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation and will implement both short and long-term solutions to the challenge posed by increased construction impacts on our roadways,” Gobeil said.

Hartsfield-Jackson moved the pickup areas for Uber and Lyft to the economy lots on Wednesday, an arrangement expected to last for the next 18 months or so while massive canopies are constructed over the domestic terminal curbside areas.

Officials want to reduce congestion at the curbside, where construction is forcing lane closures at the passenger pickup and drop-off areas.

Non-commercial pickups are not affected by the shift of the designated ride-share pickup spots.

Ride-share customers now must walk across a terminal roadway and through parking garages to the domestic terminal north or south economy lots.

Uber expressed concerns about the problems Thursday night. It recommends that during peak periods, passengers without checked bags exit the airport at the international terminal, where they can still be picked up curbside.

Uber also told drivers who were at the airport Thursday evening that it would add $6 to their next payout to offset the lot charges they incurred.

Lyft general manager Sam Bond also said improving the arrangement is a priority.

“We have provided recommendations to the airport including an extension in the grace period for drivers in the economy lots,” Bond said, adding that Lyft is also considering modifying its operations.

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