Congestion at the Curb
An Analysis of Ride-Hailing at LAX and the TNC System at Airports
Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have ushered in a new wave of mobility that has reshaped the transportation fabric of cities across the globe.
What started as a novel way to hail a ride with an app is now a multi-billion dollar industry with millions of drivers and hundreds of millions of passengers worldwide. While many have enjoyed the comfort and ease of hailing a Transportation Network Company (TNC) ride, cities are now dealing with the negative effects of tens of thousands of extra cars on the road.
Airports have always been one of the most challenging arenas for TNCs. We’ve come a long way since the days of unregulated pick-ups and drop-offs, and while nearly all major airports now have agreements with Uber and Lyft, the volume of passengers being dropped off and picked up on an hourly basis often exceeds airport capacity. Combine that with more and more flights every year, and aging infrastructure, and you have a recipe for serious problems when it comes to getting people in and out of airports.
Airports around the country are attempting to deal with the sudden influx of ride-hail passengers, but Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was one of the first to implement an off-terminal pick-up site, a major structural change to the TNC pick-up process.
This report aims to examine the change, provide recommendations to optimize the system, and analyze how other airports around the country can learn from this process to ensure a smooth transition when it comes time for them to face their own ride-hail problems.
Ultimately, the changes that airports like LAX are implementing are for the better, but change can anger constituents and transportation is a polarizing topic. In this case, it only took a few days of growing pains to unleash a torrent of media criticism and pressure onto airport officials. In today’s day and age of dynamic media, it’s more important than ever to make a great first impression.