CHICAGO (CBS) — This week, two more major American airports are banning curbside rideshare pickups at the terminal – forcing passengers to traipse far, far away before leaving the airport.
But as CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, the solution at O’Hare International Airport seems to be as simple as a colorful rainbow designation system for the pickup area – rather than sending travelers looking for rideshares far away like some other airports do.
Effective on Tuesday, Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, will no longer allow curbside rideshare pickups. But the airport has also brought in LAXit – a cutesy, but catchy name for some green shuttle buses that will bridge the gap.
The shuttle buses will keep 15,000 or so rideshare pickups away from the terminal. Instead, the rideshare pickups will take place in a remote spot, forcing passengers to hop on the LAXit shuttle bus or walk a ways.
The voiceover for the promotional video about the LAXit shuttle calls it, “One more way we’re making LAX way better, really.”
But CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg is not so sure about that.
“I now have to go and take a shuttle to a remote lot, schlepping bags,” Greenberg said. “No multiply that by a family of four trying to get to Disneyland? This is not pretty.”
McNicholas asked Greenberg about the growing trend. Boston also just moved rideshare to a parking lot on Sunday, forcing passengers to navigate past a maze of signs.
They join a growing list of airports moving rideshare away from the terminal. Also among them are San Francisco; Atlanta; Seattle; Las Vegas; and Austin, Texas, to name a few.
Greenberg said the effect was really merely to move congestion from one spot to another.
“Once again, we’re dealing with optics, and the optics are, ‘We’re going to save time and congestion at the airport,’ when in fact, you’re just adding time and moving congestion,” Greenberg said.
An O’Hare representative said there are no plans to eliminate curbside pickup. Some people are happy about that.
Passengers landing at O’Hare can still wait curbside – they just have to pay attention to colors now.
The rideshare pickup area is now color-coded, splitting passengers into four color-coded zones of black, blue, red, and green. The idea is that the result will be less of a cluster at the terminal.
“The kind of getting out of the airport and trying to find it is a little bit of a challenge, but once you get out here and try to find the zones, it’s pretty easy to find them all out here,” said Randy Sok.
“It’s easier because you know where to go,” said business traveler Chuck Gray.
Eli Martin has been an Uber driver for more than five years. He agrees the colors have cut down on chaos.
“They have a much wider, larger zone to get picked up in that’s more organized,” Martin said.
Make no mistake – the rideshare companies like the color-coding too. Uber said, “The new system at O’Hare is working well,” and went on to say it “should be a model for other airports.”
The rideshare companies also hate when rideshares are exiled away – with Lyft saying, “Moving rideshare away from the curb does nothing to solve transportation challenges and is a disservice.”
“The colored zone thing? It works,” Greenberg said. “It certainly is going to work a lot better than what they’re going to try at LAX.”
More than 110,000 people are registered as rideshare drivers in Chicago. That number is staggering, considering that the concept hasn’t even been around a decade.