In an effort to ease the daily rideshare traffic jams at SFO's domestic terminals, the airport is moving all Uber and Lyft pickups to a new designated area on the roof of the domestic hourly parking garage — and you can expect a few months of confusion about this as people figure it out .
Following the lead of other airports around the country who have been trying to manage the glut of rideshare traffic in recent years, SFO is instituting the new policy beginning today (Wednesday), and signs have gone up at the airport showing people how to find the skybridges that will lead them to the garage. SFO says the walk takes only three minutes. The change also affects airport car service Wingz, as the SF Business Times explains.
ABC 7 has a map of the terminals, and the location of the central garage.
Curbside drop-offs will continue as usual, but enforcing the new policy means that regular vehicle traffic idling at the curb is likely to face some harassment from airport security — since any car could be an Uber or Lyft. Also, the International Terminal is not impacted by the new policy, and curbside pickups will continue there. (Hot tip: The International Terminal just one stop away from Terminals 1 and 3 via AirTrain.)
The change may be a boon for taxis, which will be able to make pickups from their regular taxi stands at the curb on the arrivals level.
The Chronicle earlier reported that there are now 13,000 daily pickups by rideshare vehicles at the airport — and we already know that BART ridership to the airport is down, in part because of the ease of door-to-door Lyft and Uber service, and cheap rates if you choose a carpool (and you're not in a hurry).
The airport first made a change back in March, offering rideshare passengers a $3 discount if they opted to meet their ride in the domestic garage. But as the Business Times reports, the discount only succeeded in diverting about one-fifth of rideshare pickups, which led them to institute the change taking effect today.
Uber tried to push back on the switch-up, circulating a petition among 45,000 local drivers last month to tell the airport that moving the pickup location could negatively impact their earnings. Both Lyft and Uber argued that their "rematch" technology — which automatically finds arriving passengers to assign to drivers who have just dropped someone off at the airport — will no longer work if the pickup location is moved. "Our concerns stem not from addressing congestion, but instead from the methodology,” said Lyft's senior director of city partnerships at Lyft Bakari Brock, speaking to the Business Times.
It remains to be seen if the chaos of three-car-deep curbside clusters is going to be tamed by this change.