Uber and Lyft are fighting Massport’s plan to hike fees and kick the ride-hailing services off terminal curbs as both sides grapple with worsening traffic congestion around the airport.
“This would be the only airport in the country that doesn’t allow ride-shares at the curb,” Uber spokesman Harry Hartfield said Monday. “From our point of view, Massport has made a proposal that at the end of the day, requires ride-shares to pay a lot more to get a lot less in return.”
Massport acting CEO John Pranckevicius said the proposal is part of a two-pronged approach to manage the traffic that flows through Logan Airport, which he says continues to become more congested.
Massport is looking to centralize pickups and drop-offs into its central garage, and is also planning a big construction project to help with “bottlenecked” roadways between Terminals B and C. The proposal also recommends that ride-hailing companies be charged a $5 fee for pickups and drop-offs. The fee would be $2.50 for rides that are shared. Apps such as Uber and Lyft currently pay $3.25 for pickups only.
“As the airport continues to grow and be an economic engine for the commonwealth, one of the challenges is that our road system needs to be changed,” said Pranckevicius. “The plan we developed was to find an area centrally located to drop off passengers.”
There were 12 million Uber and Lyft trips to and from Logan Airport last year and 5 million of those trips did not include passengers, officials said. Pranckevicius says Massport is hoping to cut back on the amount of those “deadheading” trips.
Uber has suggested alternative proposals for Massport to allow ride-hailing services to utilize an Uber initiative called “Rematch,” which allows drivers who drop off a rider to be paired with a rider who’s leaving.
“We’ve been asking for two years to allow us to try Rematch,” Hartfield said. “How can they know it doesn’t work if they’ve never tried?”
Pranckevicius said Massport “loves Rematch” but says it doesn’t work at the curb.
“From our perspective it doesn’t work,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of space. That’s a challenge.”
Lyft also criticized being potentially booted from the curb, adding that the approach would create more challenges for travelers.
“We know how important it is that riders can affordably and conveniently get to Logan Airport,” Lyft spokeswoman Campbell Matthews said in a statement. “We’re in discussions with Massport about better ways forward that avoid many of the negative consequences of Massport’s approach.”