Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft together made 10 million pickups and drop-offs at SFO in 2018, creating more congestion than ever, according to the Chronicle's Phil Matier. Now the airport is trying to manage the chaos.
The two companies are now making a combined 1,200 pickups and drop-offs every hour at SFO. In response, the airport put out a statement last month announcing that it's offering a $3 discount to rideshare customers who opt to meet their rides at a designated area in an adjoining garage. "We’re focused on making SFO easier for travelers to access, and we’ve implemented premium pricing at our curbsides to alleviate traffic congestion around our terminals," said Ivan Satero, SFO's Airport Director, in the statement.
Cars can stay in the garage for free for up to thirty minutes, making it an enticing option for drivers who want to avoid costly tickets for idling outside at the curb. According to the Chronicle, the fees accounted for $45 million of SFO's annual revenue last year, more than all of its stores, bars, and restaurants combined.
If you're arriving at Terminals 1, 2, or 3, you just take the skybridge to the Domestic Garage, and you'll find your Lyft or Uber on the 5th Floor. At the International Terminal, all rideshare pickups happen at the second curb on the departures level.
Lyft rides from San Francisco to SFO run from $20-$100 depending on the type of car a rider orders, while Uber rides to SFO cost anywhere from $17 to $81 (use links for price estimators). In comparison, a taxi ride costs $52, according to the aggregate taxi calculator site Taxi Fare Finder — though you can get a $35 flat rate to SFO via Yellow Cab's Yo Taxi app.
Those quoted in the Chronicle noted Lyft and Uber's inexpensive prices and convenience as the reasons why they opted for rideshares over public transit to the airport.
All of this has been bad news for BART revenue. Way back in 2016 BART was feeling the pain as more and more travelers were taking the ride-share route to get to and from the airport — which first became officially allowed in 2014. BART Board President Bevan Dufty now tells the Chronicle that BART has lost an estimated $4 million in revenue to rideshares, and he's hoping that added police presence at the SFO BART station might help clean up the situation for riders.
It turns out that airports all over feared that the rise of Uber and Lyft would mean decreased revenue for them — given how much revenue both parking and car rentals represent. But the LA Times reports today that those fears have largely been unfounded and LAX is making up for lost revenue with a $4 fee for rideshares.
The real issue is convenience, though — it's not always easy to choose BART, which costs almost $10 to the airport, when you could get door-to-door service for $10-$20 more and not have to deal with public transport.