KENNER, La. — Travelers landing at the new Armstrong International Airport have discovered long lines for rideshares Uber and Lyft this week, in part because of a new system in place on the apps.
But rideshare companies insist the systems, which Uber calls ‘PIN’ and Lyft calls ‘Fast Match,' may actually shorten wait times.
Here’s how it works: Uber and Lyft passengers will find designated rideshare lines on the outermost curb of the Arrivals level of the airport terminal. When requesting a standard ride in either of the apps, the rider will receive a four or six-digit code. Riders will wait in line for an available car, then give that code to the driver.
The companies say Fast Match and PIN prevent riders and drivers from having to find each other outside a crowded terminal, and streamlines rideshare services into one area.
Still, wait times for rideshare services have been a major complaint among travelers at the new Armstrong International. Opening night, lines stretched 50-people long, and many waited 25 minutes or more.
“This is the craziest thing I've ever seen,” said one visitor Wednesday evening.
Drivers, who were waiting by the dozens in a nearby holding lot, found the new system a challenging adjustment as well. Mohammed Suleiman said he has been driving for Uber for four years, but the new rules make him rethink making pickups at the airport.
“This has just been a headache just getting in and through,” he said. “I really can't see this lasting long for a holiday time, like Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest. It's going to be a pain in the butt.”
Still, Lyft and Uber claim the new system is faster and here to stay. Lyft tells WWL-TV that at airports such as Chicago Midway (MDW) and Portland International (PDX), the Fast Match system has shortened wait times by two or three minutes. Uber wrote in an email to WWL-TV that is has been piloting PIN at a “handful” of airports nationwide.
In a statement to WWL-TV, Lyft wrote:
"We’ve been working closely with MSY airport leadership, and we have an experienced team on the ground making real-time adjustments to improve our operations for both riders and drivers. We are encouraged by the day one launch of our new Fast Match feature and we are confident that we will be able to further reduce wait times and ease congestion in the terminal through the use of this feature.”
There are exceptions to the new system. Riders who use Uber Comfort, Uber Black, or Lyft XL will head to the pickup zone and request a ride as normal.
Both Lyft and Uber have staff positioned on site to help riders with the new system.