Lyft sics its Boston customers on Massport
Wants agency to back off its anti-congestion plan
LYFT BEGAN MOBILIZING its customer base on Friday to pressure Massport to back off a series of proposals that would hike fees on rides to Logan Airport and steer pickups and drop-offs to a location in the central parking garage 5 to 10 minutes away from the terminals.
In emails and online postings that went out shortly after 9 a.m., the San Francisco-based company told its customers in the Boston area that “we need your help to keep Lyft affordable and convenient at Logan Airport.”
The email warned that Massport’s response to growing congestion at the airport would more than triple the fees of a roundtrip in a Lyft standard ride to Logan and make that ride less convenient by forcing passengers to get picked up or dropped off in the parking garages away from terminal curbs.
“If approved, the new fees will hurt Massachusetts residents who rely on rideshare services for reliable and affordable transportation to the airport,” the email said. “We want to work with Massport on better solutions, but right now they need to hear from riders like you.”
Officials at Massport, whose board is expected to take up the proposal next week, issued a statement saying the agency is continuing to have productive conversations with both Lyft and Uber about the best way to reduce congestion at Logan. But Massport said it believes its plan will reduce deadhead ride-hailing trips (those with no passengers) by 30 percent while improving the overall customer experience. Massport has said ride-hailing traffic at the airport is up 30 percent so far this year.
This sort of customer lobbying has reportedly been very effective for the ride-hailing apps in the past, since it conveys to political leaders the concerns of those directly affected by various policies. In New York City, however, both Uber and Lyft mobilized their customers against proposals to cap the number of ride-hailing vehicles and to establish pay rules for drivers, but the city moved ahead anyway.The Lyft campaign also is an indication that talks between Massport and the ride-hailing apps were not going anywhere. “We’ve repeatedly voiced our concerns with Massport’s proposal for Logan Airport and attempted to find a compromise that will avoid the negative and unprecedented consequences of what Massport is suggesting,” Lyft said in a statement. “In fact, we’ve made numerous counter proposals that Massport has dismissed. The plan is an ineffective way to address Massport’s concerns and we believe it’s important that they hear from the riders and drivers who would be impacted most.”
Uber hasn’t asked its customers to pressure Massport, but a company spokesman didn’t rule anything out. “We laid out a proposal to the airport that can reduce deadheading, raise new revenues, and be implemented quickly with little upfront cost to the airport – all without forcing customers to be picked up and dropped off in a distant parking lot,” said Harry Hartfield in a statement. “Our hope is that we can work with Massport on a solution, but we are prepared to do whatever possible to protect riders and drivers from an unfair proposal.”