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Ubers and Lyfts belong in parking garages

written by andy on

SFO recently implemented a policy to relocate TNC pick ups from the curb right outside the terminals to the top floor of parking garages.

The reason for the relocation is that the curbside pickup has slowed down traffic for everyone, and at times traffic has backed up onto the freeway.

While overall the relocation has worked well, there have been times where sudden increases in demand for TNC pickups have caused significant delays.

The major flaw with the Uber/Lyft business model, which is a major cause for the congestion, is the need to match the exact passenger with the exact car. Rather than operating on a first come first serve basis, the passengers have to look out for a specific car to get on.

While exact match may work fine in the suburbs where density is low and where prior arrangement is needed for any type of pick up anyway, this exact match method is inefficient and unsafe in places with limited curb space and high demand, which besides the airports include after concerts and sporting events.

Passengers on the streets have to split attention between the phone screen and the street for cars. Drivers also have to split attention between the screen and the road. Drivers often get distracted by cancellations and phone calls/text from impatient passengers.

Because of the inefficiencies and congestion, these cars are directed to the parking garages. At the end these companies need to change their booking/matching method to eliminate these inefficiencies.

Some people will always complain for not having curbside pick up, but if you choose a particular method because of price, shouldn’t convenience be part of that trade off. For example, people who want to save on parking can park at off-site parking lots and take a shuttle bus.

When the volume of TNC pick ups is clogging the driveway, and when price of the TNC service is what drives the volume, relocating the pick up to where it has less impact is reasonable, and still very accommodating. Taxis, which have existed for decades and operates on a very efficient first come first served basis, are still accessible curbside. Licensed limos can also pick up curbside. They are no different than premium/valet parking available within walking distance from the terminal.

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