LAX pushes Uber pickups to a remote lot. It's the wrong direction


As LAX and other airports push ride-hail to remote lots (which you have to take a shuttle to in the case of LAX-it) I examine why that's a crazy decision in my new article at In the article I also touch on how we can eventually move to being picked up, not at the curb, but at the plane, in an airport with lots of robocar pods.

LAX won't let Uber pick you up at the curb. It should be at your plane

In the article I also state that there are much better ways to manage pickup that could eliminate congestion even in the smartphone world. Below is a sidebar you can read after reading the main article on the details of that.

Sidebar on managing airport pick-up (and drop-off)

Ideally you do this not with a line of cars, but a long row of perpendicular, rather than parallel stopping spots. Cars only enter the airport when such spots are free, and immediately drive and stop in a free spot or even a spot they were assigned which their phone speaks and displays to them.

Cars coming in use an app or website (for Uber drivers it is of course their Uber app) as do passengers. On approach to their desired terminal they will be told to either come in or go to the holding lot until they get the word to come in. Once they come in, there will be an open spot for them to drive to directly, with no congestion. If they are picking up a passenger, the passenger must (at peak times) have indicated they are ready for pick-up with luggage in hand, though it is OK (and actually good) if they still need to walk to the pick-up spot but the time can be calculated to be there before their driver's arrival. Passengers with no phone could go to small kiosks to indicate their name (scan boarding pass or type in a few letters) and go to the space allocated.

In the perpendicular spot, blocking nobody, people are free to take a little extra time loading and unloading. At off-peak times, they can take as much time as they want.

It can also make sense to "pulse" cars in and out of the spots. Cars would wait for the green signal in their app, and all pull out at once. To make that easy, only every third spot would be pulsed out so there is room to back out. Then everybody drives out at once, like a big green light, while the next block of cars who were waiting at a metering light see a green and pulse into those spots. If there are more lanes, even faster systems can be done where, for example, 2 adjacent cars back out into 3 lanes (as marked on the road and shown on their phone.)

If somebody is coming to pick up a friend and has no phone (seriously? in 2020?) they must take a lane to a small lot where a screen will show them the first letters of their passenger's name, their status, and what space to go to when the time comes. At off peak times, though, they can just go in to their spot and wait in it. (They can walk to a small machine to enter their spot number and passenger's name if the passenger is not there. The passenger will learn the number on their phone or at the kiosk.)

Here's a typical visit to the airport

  1. The passenger wanting pick-up would indicate where they were and that they had their bags. (At off-peak times, they could also signal this before they get their bags.) 2. The passenger will be told what area to go to to meet their ride.
  2. Based on the location of the passenger and the driver, a walk time and drive time to the spot will be estimated. The driver will be told (audio) what area to head to and when to leave for it. They will get more audio guidance as they approach.
  3. As the driver approaches the waiting area, they will be told a specific spot number by audio, as would the passenger. They may wait for a pulse signal to go. The driver will park in the spot. Once stopped, they will see a timer counting down the typical loading time. They can always shorten or extend the time if needed — an audio warning will say when it is close to running out.
  4. Load the passengers and bags into the car, or extend the wait time if it will take a while. When done, indicate ready to go.
  5. Wait for the go signal, and pull out, synchronized with drivers in other spots. The drivers next to you are not backing out into your lane on this pulse, so you can exit the spot quickly and, on the second signal, begin driving out with everybody in your pulse. This will free up your spot to assign it to some other approaching driver.


I hate to break it to you but as an Uber driver the airport pin pickup line system was a pilot program that was cancelled two months ago at BWI. I drive in the DC Maryland Virginia area and that pilot program was never tested at Dulles nor was it tested at Reagan it was only run at BWI and a handful of other airports. I'm not sure if it's still running at other airports but that pilot program was cancelled at BWI.

Curious if it is shut down at all airports. I will say that it didn't work nearly as fast as I expected, in part because cars were not coming as fast as passengers so you still had to wait in a line, but once in the car it was quick.

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