The Massachusetts Port Authority, an independent public authority that runs Boston Logan International Airport, introduced a proposal for ride-hailing services last month that encourages public transportation and reduces ride-hailing trips to and from the airport. Hopefully, this would reduce congestion at the airport and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
A major aspect of the program is to increase ridership on the airport’s Logan Express bus service. Currently, a ride on the bus to Logan from stations in Back Bay, like Copley and Hynes, costs $7.50. The plan would lower the fare to $3 and make rides from the airport to Back Bay free. New bus services with these reduced fees may be introduced in other locations in the city, as well, such as North Station.
Massport’s plan to increase the ride-hailing pick-up fee from $3.75 to $5 would help raise funds that could support the more eco-friendly Logan Express bus service. Moreover, the plan would rightfully introduce the same $5 fee for airport drop-offs, which currently have no additional cost.
Increasing fees on trips to and from the airport affects a large population of travelers and could enhance a bus program that could reduce up to 3 million vehicle rides a year. That is worth the airport’s time and effort.
The proposal seeks to create a hub on the ground floor of the airport’s Central Garage for all drop-offs and pickups from ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft. The space would provide check-in and baggage services for passengers being dropped off and is weather-protected, unlike the current drop-off system.
Uber and Lyft are already substantially more expensive than the poorly-advertised bus service which, if improved, could become more efficient than ride-hailing. Introducing an option to use an MBTA CharlieCard to pay for this service could increase participation even further.
In the current system, passengers cannot share rides with other passengers through Uber Pool or Lyft Line when leaving the Logan terminals. Massport’s proposal would allow passengers to use this feature at a discounted fee for both drop-offs and pickups going forward — a necessary step that would increase shared rides, which reduces congestion and emissions.
The introduction and promotion of ride-sharing within these services is crucial to reducing emissions and provides a lower-cost option for passengers who prefer mobile ride-hailing to public transportation.
Boston’s public transportation network, as a whole, is in need of improvement. Improving Massport’s functionality through this new plan will help the public transportation system across the Boston metropolitan area.
Public awareness of these planned cheaper bus services provided by Massport is essential. Currently, consumers also have the option through the MBTA to take the Silver Line to the airport for free. The Silver Line provides direct access to the Red Line at South Station for no charge. There is little data on the service’s usage, however, and it is poorly advertised to travelers.
If Massport can increase public knowledge of their less-expensive Logan Express bus service, the benefits are likely to incentivize riders and thus reduce ride-hailing at the airport.
People will still use Uber and Lyft — public transportation cannot generally provide true door-to-door service — but an option that reduces emissions and saves money on an already costly flight is a worthwhile investment for the airport and its passengers.