The drop-off and pick-up cab lanes at BWI are about to get a little more organized, though at a cost to ride-hailing app users.
The Maryland Board of Public Works today approved contracts allowing Lyft and Uber to drop off and pick up riders in designated zones at the airport. Up until now, the companies had been operating there, but the cars had intermingled in the cab lanes. The two new contracts set up designated zones for drivers with either company.
Minutes from today’s meeting show Lyft’s contract is for three years, while Uber’s contract, listed with its wholly-owned subsidiary Rasier, LLC, is for two years.
In addition to adding a new (and yet-undetermined) pickup location for both companies, the contracts also bring a $2.50 surcharge for riders. The Maryland Aviation Administration submitted remarks about the changes, saying they will regulate the ride-hailing services “while providing a level playing field for all ground transportation” – cabs included.
The board also negotiated a new agreement with BWI’s exclusive old-school taxi firm, BWI Airport Taxi, to reduce the minimum number of cars in its daily fleet, among other changes. The idea there is to allow the company’s drivers to make more money by letting them give more rides, rather than spreading them more thinly.
The agency acknowledged in remarks that “existing ground transportation contractors” – taxi companies, that is – “are experiencing significant reductions in ridership due to an increase in Transportation Network Companies” – ridesharing firms – “offering service at the Airport.”
Asked about the changes, a spokesperson for Uber said in a statement, “After constructive conversations with airport officials, Uber is pleased to reach a formal operating agreement with BWI Marshall Airport to ensure seamless, convenient transportation for local and visiting travelers alike.”
He also thanked the Board of Public Works for approving the contract.
Lyft Baltimore market manager Mike Heslin said in a statement that with the contract in place, Lyft can “create the best experience for our passengers and our drivers by creating a dedicated driver waiting lot, providing passengers with wayfinding signage, and enabling passengers to be picked up and dropped off in convenient locations.”
If you’re bummed about the extra $2.50 you’ll have to pay for each ride, look to D.C. for some perspective. Both Reagan National and Dulles airports have charged riders an additional $4 to ride with either company since November 2015, per The Washington Post, meaning BWI is still the cheapest airport in the region to catch a ride using your phone.