Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is boosting spending to nearly $4.4 million annually on shuttle buses serving its one-year-old international terminal — more than three times the original amount it expected — to keep average wait times at five minutes or less.
The Atlanta City Council is set to vote Monday to increase the amount the airport spends on its contract with Standard Parking Corp., which runs airport shuttles and parking operations. The council’s transportation committee unanimously approved the measure Wednesday.
The year-old terminal introduced a second entrance to the Atlanta airport, streamlining things for most international fliers but also adding complexity for some. The new terminal has no MARTA station, for instance, so fliers using it must take a shuttle to the main terminal. The shuttles also take people to the airport’s rental car center, and they offer a way for travelers who have simply wound up at the wrong terminal to get to the other one.
When the terminal opened, complaints quickly proliferated about lines and waits as long as 45 minutes for shuttles, as reported at the time by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In response, Hartsfield-Jackson added 23 shuttles to its initial fleet of 14. The shuttle buses, owned by the airport, include surplus shuttles from the airport’s parking operation that were repainted for international terminal service.
Though there can still be lines during peak periods, travelers say now there is often little wait for the shuttles.
“I almost felt like it was easier to just take the shuttle,” said traveler April Wool. “That’s easier than driving all around the place finding [the international terminal] yourself.”
Money in the proposed new contract includes the original $1.1 million allocated for shuttle operations, plus nearly $2.2 million more to operate new ones, with the balance made up of savings from parking operations in the Standard Parking contract, according to Hartsfield-Jackson general manager Louis Miller.
Separately, the airport is spending $3.9 million on additional moving walkways between Concourse E and the international terminal for Atlanta-bound arriving passengers who have a trek of as much as 0.6 mile to Customs.