Leading up to the Massport Board’s vote on whether or not to force Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft to pick up and drop off at a central location inside Logan International Airport, the TNC lobby launched a media blitz against the plan.
The TNCs took out ads in local newspapers, released radio commercials against the plan and lobbied Massport administrators to abandon the idea.
The plan released by Massport Acting CEO John Pranckevicius earlier this month aimed to remove 3 million TNC trips from local roadways and the airport that have been greatly contributing to East Boston’s traffic woes.
Over the past few years Uber and Lyft trips to and from Logan International Airport have exploded with 12 million annual trips a year. However, these trips are only picking up 7 million riders. The remaining 5 million trips are what the industry calls ‘deadhead’ trips or trips that do not include a passenger when arriving or leaving Logan.
Pranckevicius and Massport planned to better rematch shared rides so TNCs are not arriving or leaving Logan airport empty.
This would have prohibited TNCs from dropping off curbside at Logan terminals and instead force all TNCs into the first floor of Logan’s Central Garage for drop offs.
However, in the 11th hour it seemed Massport drafted a compromise allowing the rideshare companies to continue curbside drop offs at airport terminals between the hours of 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. However, all pickups will be moved to the Central Garage.
The compromise plan, which was approved by the Massport Board last Thursday, angered Eastie’s elected officials, environmental watchdog groups and even Massport Board member John Nucci because it does little to mitigate airport-related traffic spilling out onto Eastie streets.
“I spoke out against the compromise plan because it is simply not the best way to address morning congestion at the tunnel and on surrounding streets,” said Nucci after last week’s vote. “This amended plan essentially allows Ubers and Lyfts to continue to snarl curb traffic and quite possibly leave the airport empty during morning hours when 40 percent of Logan flights takeoff.
“That’s not a good compromise for East Boston and I’m going to be watching it very closely,” Nucci added.
The original plan received the nod from Eastie’s elected officials, Eastie’s environmental watchdog group Airport Impact Relief, Incorporated (AirInc.), as well as Gov. Charlie Baker.
Rep. Adrian Madaro, who backed the original plan, said by continuing to allow drop offs curbside, especially during the morning commute, does nothing to mitigate traffic impacts. He argued that TNC drivers will be allowed to police themselves under the compromise. Madaro said there is now no policy to force them to pick up another ride at Logan and can simply leave the airport once they make their drop off and continue to clog neighborhood streets.
“I am disappointed in the Massport Board’s decision to water down this proposal,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “These changes, which continue to allow curbside drop offs during morning rush hour, will not do enough to reduce the millions of deadhead rideshare trips coming out of Logan Airport or decrease congestion in East Boston and surrounding communities. I urge the Massport Board to rethink their decision, and to adopt the original plan.”
In a statement AirInc. said Eastie deserves better when it comes to safe streets and an efficient mobility system.
“This is counterproductive and baffling,” read the AirInc. statement. “Under the Massport Board’s plan, HOV use can be expected to continue to dwindle during the morning commute, at exactly the time that traffic congestion and its negative economic, environmental, health and safety impacts are clearly at their worst.”
Over at Massport Pranckevicius is standing behind the compromise plan.
“As a strong economy continues to drive Logan Airport passenger demand, we are confident that our new plan is a step in the right direction to help alleviate congestion on our roadways, the tunnels and in our surrounding communities,” said Pranckevicius. “Our goal has always been to move more people in less vehicles while providing a better customer experience, and we think this plan achieves that.”