The Democrats in Boston continued their war on the gig economy this year, just in time for the Christmas travel season. This time they were once again going after Uber and Lyft with a new regulation designed to discourage people from using the ride-sharing services. Following the example of Los Angeles International Airport, the new rules at Logan Airport forbid Uber and Lyft from picking up or discharging passengers at the curb near the terminals except for a few hours early in the morning. But they went even further than LAX. Rather than a central lot near the general parking area by the terminals, they moved the “designated” ride-share location to the basement of the parking garage. (Boston Globe)
The controversial new Logan drop-off rules, the first of their kind in the nation, were approved in April and went fully into effect about two weeks ago — just in time for the holiday travel season. The sequence of frustration, confusion, and acceptance seems to be a common reception for the policy, which consolidated pickups and drop-offs in the airport’s central garage.
The policy was phased in, with pickups — which used to occur at satellite lots off each terminal — moving to the central garage in October. The bigger change came on Dec. 9, when drop-offs that used to take place at the curb were also moved. Curbside drop-offs are still allowed between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m., because there are few incoming flights during those hours, officials say.
The complaints began coming in immediately, mostly dealing with the distance passengers had to travel. While one Boston Globe reporter (who didn’t have any luggage) said she made it from the drop off point to the terminal in under seven minutes, actual travelers were reporting walking times of up to fifteen minutes. At least one flyer called in complaining about having missed their flight.
As usual, the state is claiming the change was designed to reduce traffic congestion at the terminals, but that’s nonsense. They’re not even trying to hide the real reason this was done. How can we tell? Because mysteriously, taxis are still allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at the terminals 24/7, as well as sitting around idling while waiting for a fare. Only the ride-sharing drivers were relegated to the parking garage basement.
This is par for the course in Massachusetts. They’ve been going after Uber and Lyft, as well as Airbnb, for years now through a series of regulations specifically designed to make them less profitable. And the government falls in line because of the powerful influence of groups like the Boston Taxi Drivers Union (which has been protesting Uber since day one) and hotel industry lobbyist groups.
Uber and Lyft will probably have to go through yet another expensive court battle if they hope to get this overturned. And perhaps there is hope for some success. Just this month, a court in New York City ruled that one of the Big Apple’s absurd ride-sharing regulations was “arbitrary and capricious.” The regulation was terminated. Perhaps the companies can find similar luck from a Massachusetts court.