San Diego Airport Hails Faster Cab Lines With BlipTrack

After installing a set of BlipTrack sensors along its taxi queuing area, the airport's ground-transportation team has seen shorter passenger lines and faster pick-up service.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor

The main benefit of using Blip Systems' solution has been the ability to dispatch cabs from the waiting area to the queue according to real demand, rather than educated guesses, based on the time of day, holidays or spikes caused by passengers arriving for major conventions. Plus, it provides empirical evidence regarding whether the cab companies (represented through a consortium) are in compliance with their contract with the airport, which requires that they provide the airport with enough cabs to ensure that wait times do not exceed 10 minutes.

The airport has decided to keep the sensors installed. The facility is now in the process of installing another set of sensors in its other terminal, so that it will be able to monitor wait times in both taxi queues.

The next step is to integrate the Blip Systems data with the dispatch system that the airport uses to call cabs up from the waiting lot to the queue; currently, dispatchers still need to continually refer to the wait times shown on the Blip platform, and then call up cabs accordingly. Once that integration is complete, Boenitz says, "if there are 15 [MAC addresses detected] in line, they'll call 15 cabs."

After the technology is fully integrated, the airport hopes to use digital displays or announcements inside the terminal to inform travelers of the current taxi wait times. This will help travelers to decide whether they are more likely to get a speedier departure from a taxi or from a ride-sharing service that they might also use, such as Uber or Lyft. (Ride-share apps provide users with wait times based on the location of the nearest driver.)

Boenitz says the airport has contracts with four ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, Wingz and a fourth local provider), and that demand is quite robust. The airport receives a small fee from the ride-sharing providers based on every pickup that drivers make on the premises.

In recent years, a growing number of travelers have begun to rely on ride-sharing services to get to and from airports, and ride-sharing is often a less expensive option than cabs. However, Boenitz says, during times of heavy demand, the wait times for taxis are shorter than those for ride-sharing services at the airport. Travelers eager to get to their destinations may gladly opt for a cab if it gets them on the road sooner.

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