- Uber is circulating a petition to drivers in the San Francisco area to protest San Francisco International Airport's (SFO) plan to move ride-hailing pickups to a parking garage, away from the terminals.
- Starting on June 3, all domestic terminal pickups will go to the Domestic Hourly Parking Garage. It's part of the airport's goal of moving at least 45% of ride-hailing activity away from terminal roadways to reduce congestion and keep average speeds at 15 mph.
- Uber says it wants to find a middle ground with the airport to reduce congestion while maintaining rider convenience. "We are concerned that moving all rideshare pick-ups to the garage could actually increase congestion while inconveniencing riders and lowering earnings for drivers," a spokesman said in a statement.
SFO's efforts highlight increasing concern around ride-hailing companies' impact on congestion, especially in crowded pickup and dropoff areas.
Uber says it and other ride-hailing competitors have been doing enough to keep the terminal roads clear. Pickups for shared rides have already been moved to the garage at SFO, and Uber X and Lyft have offered $3 discounts for garage pickups instead of curbside. However, SFO says that has only moved about 21% of ride-hailing activity away from terminals.
The Uber petition was sent to some 45,000 drivers, all of whom have completed a trip at SFO in the past 90 days. Among the company's concerns are that the garage could be too crowded, would be inconvenient for riders who need a wheelchair accessible vehicle, and would eliminate the company's rematch feature, which pairs drivers doing airport dropoffs with arriving passengers so that drivers do not have to circle the airport.
In Portland, Oregon Uber and Lyft piloted new features designed to expedite pickups by essentially mirroring a taxi stand. In the feature, passengers get a numerical code after requesting a ride, then wait in a pick-up line. Drivers can enter the code to get trip information once passengers have loaded.
The protest also comes months after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency passed a controversial rule limiting taxi pickups at the airport to drivers with certain medallions, ones that cost $250,000 apiece (owners of older medallions no longer get expedited curb access). Cab drivers and companies have since sued the city over the rule.