Frequent customer complaints about bustling van services that drop off and pick up approximately 500,000 fliers to and from the Bay Area’s busiest airport may force one or two van companies to gain a monopoly on the shuttle business.
Currently, 13 companies take fliers to and from San Francisco International Airport, generally operating between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, according to the airport’s Web site. After passengers grumbled that the van operators are too difficult to reach by phone, charge higher rates than were quoted and take roundabout routes, SFO officials said Tuesday that they will take the first steps toward a complete revamping of the door-to-door, shared-ride van service.
Airport officials are considering terminating the permits for the van companies currently operating at the airport and allowing only one or two van services to operate within the airport, said Tryg McCoy, SFO’s deputy airport director for operations and security. The airport may follow the leads of Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles International and other national airports by providing customers with less than three operators, he said.
But van operators claim reduced competition at the airport would lead to an increase in rates, said Daniel Baker, a Lafayette-based attorney representing the smaller van services in the hopes of convincing airport officials not to undertake the overhaul.
Passengers currently pay an average of $10 to $15 dollars for a ride on shuttle services such as Bayporter Express, Super Shuttle and M&M Luxury Shuttle.
“I feel sorry for [the van companies] because they’re going to be thrown out,” Baker said.
By limiting the service to a smaller number ofcompanies, airport leaders said the overhaul will allow passengers better access to van companies. SFO officials also want to consolidate pickup locations at the airport from three to either two or one to make companies easier to find. It will also pick van companies partly based on their ability to meet the airport’s goal of running all vehicles on clean energy by 2012, a mandate less than 24 percent of the airport’s more than 200 vans currently comply with.
The overhaul, however, will cost drivers — 41 percent of whom have worked at the airport for at least five years, Baker said — their jobs. But McCoy said even if companies are axed, van drivers would likely be able to keep working at SFO with another operator.
“Certainly, I’m concerned about the well-being of the companies,” McCoy said. “But I’m also concerned about making the right changes for the customers.”
SFO’s van companies
SFO officials are considering trimming the number of shuttle services that operate at the airport to one or two.
470,000: Riders who used the service last year
$18: Sample price for shared van from SFO to Burlingame
More than 200: Vans at airport
13: Operators at airport
2012: Year by which SFO wants vans to run on clean energy
24 percent: Vans that currently run on clean energy
Approved shuttle-service operators
» Advanced Airport Shuttle
» Airport Express
» American Airporter Shuttle
» Bayporter Express
» Bay Shuttle
» Go Lorrie’s Airport Shuttle
» M & M Luxury Shuttle
» Pacific Airport Shuttle
» Peter’s Airport Shuttle
» Quake City Shuttle
» San Francisco City Shuttle
» South & East Bay Shuttle
Sources: San Francisco International Airport, SuperShuttle.com