Partnerships

Getting out of a jam: partnering to ease congestion

July 29, 2019 / Canada

As airports across the US and Canada continue to set new passenger records, there’s more pressure than ever on curb space. So how can airports overcome real estate constraints to accommodate growth?

Over the past year, we’ve invested in building a dedicated team of airport operations, business, product, and communications experts to address tough challenges like this one. As a result, we’ve had the opportunity to work closely with airports on implementing PIN matching, Rematch, and other solutions that help alleviate congestion while improving the customer experience. 

With operations at more than 600 airports around the world, we recognize that every airport is unique; however, some common strategic principles can help pave the way for mutually successful outcomes.

Engage TNC partners in the planning phase

When facing a ground transportation issue, whether at the curb or in the staging lot, airports that engage their TNC partners early will find that TNCs can be more helpful in working with them to identify cost-effective, targeted solutions.

As Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) prepared to introduce TNC services for its passengers, the airport engaged us more than 6 months in advance to discuss staging lot location, identify the most convenient passenger pickup points, and map the best ingress and egress paths for drivers. Sufficient lead time allowed our team to optimize map routing, a process that takes several weeks but is vital to help drivers navigate to their riders efficiently. This partnership between YYZ and Uber led to a cohesive rollout strategy that resulted in a very positive passenger and airport experience. 

Define the problem you’re solving

Every airport has unique physical features and design elements. In some cases, this can lead to more complex congestion-related challenges, such as constrained curbside travel lanes, suboptimal staging lot locations, and insufficient or inconsistent wayfinding. We can bring in Uber experts with experience solving immediate and long-term issues at major events and other high-traffic locations within cities, which often have very strict space allotments and regulatory environments. 

Explore potential solutions

Once the problem has been explored, Uber can tap into our proven congestion mitigation strategies and adapt them to fit your specific need. Potential solutions include turning on Rematch, adding pickup points on your departures level, and spreading out existing curbside pickup points. Consolidating or relocating pickup locations away from the curb can be an option, but it’s one we caution airports to consider carefully and in partnership with Uber. Recent learnings have shown us that any major configuration changes require early engagement between TNCs and airports, thorough planning, and traffic forecasting that accounts for nuances of TNC operations. In some cases, taking a phased approach can ensure a smooth transition.

Implement changes in partnership with TNCs

When deploying changes, we encourage airports to work closely with Uber to provide adequate lead time for configurations and communications. It’s vital to first ensure that Uber’s configurations are updated. We have a number of configuration tools for airport setups that are carefully considered and based on our best practices. Clearly communicating changes to drivers and riders in advance is also important and can be done effectively through the Uber app. We can design communication plans with tailored messaging for specific locations and purposes. These efforts take time to implement, so we encourage collaborative engagement and alignment several weeks before a change will launch. 

Measure success through business reviews

Once you’ve decided on a solution, we can schedule business metric check-ins to measure the impact. While on-the-ground and anecdotal feedback is useful, it can often miss underlying causes and effects, leading to unintended consequences. 

Denver International Airport (DEN) recently relocated TNCs to a different level of the terminal, providing dedicated curb space for drivers to pick up and drop off passengers. By maintaining an open line of communication during the transition, we were able to make swift adjustments to ingress, allocated curb space, and the number of pickup zones. 

Schedule lessons-learned meetings with TNC partners

Setting up debriefs with your TNC partners is key to making sure we’re collectively considering how a change has affected operations in the short term and what we can do to address any future concerns. 

We apply lessons learned across airports in the US and Canada. We love tackling tough challenges and want to partner with your airport to help achieve your vision of the future. Not sure who to contact at Uber? Reach out to us at us-airports@uber.com or canada-airports@uber.com.