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Boston Logan to consolidate airport drop-offs in central location

As the holiday season approaches, travelers using ride-hailing apps at Logan International Airport are bidding farewell to the typical curbside pickups and drop-offs. Massport, the agency that oversees Logan Airport, is moving all Uber and Lyft pickup and drop-off locations to a centralized garage located further away from the terminals.

Boston’s Logan Airport will no longer allow ride-sharing apps to pick-up passengers from the curbside, transitioning to the airport’s Central Garage. COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The transition, which began late October, will occur in four segments. The new system requires drivers to meet passengers at designated zones in the Central Parking Garage, which connects to all of the airport’s terminals.

The plan will be phased through Dec. 9, when all ride app drop-offs will be moved to Central Parking unless they occur between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., according to a Massport press release. These early-morning drop-offs moved to the lower level terminal curbs on Nov. 11.

The press release stated the airport will also implement a new $3.25 drop-off fee for ride-hail apps to begin Dec. 9, while the existing $3.25 pick-up fee will not change. Riders who choose to carpool from the airport can pay a reduced fee of $1.50.

The consolidation efforts aim to reduce traffic flowing into Logan Airport by 30 percent, according to a fact sheet released by Massport. This would combat congestion and reduce excess carbon emissions.

Last year, drivers using ride-hailing app services took around 12 million trips to and from Logan Airport, 5 million of which were empty “deadhead” rides where drivers left the airport alone, according to the fact sheet. 

Uber has criticized Massport’s plan and believes the issues of congestion and empty rides could be solved with their matching technology that would make sure drivers do not leave the airport without a rider.

Joshua Ostroff, partnerships director of Transportation for Massachusetts, an advocacy coalition for transportation issues in the state, said the organization supported the plan after learning more about the purpose behind Massport’s initiative.

“When we learned that it actually was part of a strategy to move more people and fewer vehicles and to reduce congestion at the airport and in the neighborhood of East Boston,” Ostroff said, “then we were very supportive.”

Ostroff also said while he understands people don’t like paying more, the new airport drop-off fee would lessen the impact of congestion and pollution by incentivizing individuals to take public transit.

“When we charge a fee for people using ride-hailing [apps], but then also are investing in transit solutions,” Ostroff said, “then we are helping not just the experience of people who live near the airport, but we’re providing a better travel experience for Logan Airport’s customers and we’re making a big impact on the environment.”

Christina Tawadros, 20, of Allston, said she thinks the central location of this plan is inconvenient because it means longer walks for travelers to their terminals.

“I feel like that’s a little bit more inconvenient because [the garage] won’t be close to your terminal,” Tawadros said. “It’s just going to be in one spot and I get if that spot is close to your terminal, but for most people it probably wouldn’t be.” 

Quinn Lawrence, 22, of Somerville, said she did not feel that the location change warranted a fare increase for riders.

“I mean, the people aren’t the ones who made the change,” Lawrence said, “so why should they have to pay a fee for it?”

Hannah Waldman, 26, of Brighton, said she was frustrated because the previous system of curbside drop-offs seemed to be working well. 

“It seems like it’s not going to be very convenient for all the people flying in and out of Logan,” Waldman said. “I’m kind of curious as to why they changed it. It seemed like what they had was working.”

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