PORTLAND, Ore. — Changes at Portland International Airport are getting travelers home a little faster. At the same time, one sticking point near the terminal is getting people stuck in traffic jams, just about every day.
The time saver is this — both Uber and Lyft are now giving customers a first-come, first-serve option for people leaving the airport. The rideshare companies each have their own pickup lanes at PDX arrivals now. Customers ordering rides from either Lyft or Uber are given numerical codes. They stand in line, give their code to the first available driver, and go.
"It's a lot easier than just having to wait for one person," passenger Bilqiis Haibade said.
PDX officials agree the new process is an improvement, especially with up to 400 rideshare vehicles an hour passing through PDX during peak travel times.
"What that allows us to do is really keep traffic moving," PDX spokesperson Kama Simonds said.
The trouble for some of those rideshare drivers — and anyone waiting to pick people up — is the traffic mess they’ll encounter leaving the cell phone waiting area. It's a given that during peak travel hours traffic will back up as drivers wait in line to reach the area’s only exit.
"It gets very busy, crazy, you see?" one Uber driver said. "It's getting worse every month."
Traffic is so bad, PDX hired flaggers to help lead people out of the fray during heavy travel times.
"It's not ideal," Simonds said. "We know there's congestion out there. We're making little changes and looking at a better longer-term change."
Simonds said she couldn’t share details about that potential long-term improvement but said PDX hoped to have it in place, possibly by August.