Skift Take

The Bandwagon app's matching system is a smart way to reduce congestion and wait times without impacting current transportation infrastructure. If it's a success, we expect the service to expand quickly.

The long line of travelers standing in airport taxi lines seems an antiquated image in a time when many travelers are turning to their smartphones for on-demand rides or renting fellow flyers’ cars.

Still, they persist, delaying flyers, wasting drivers’ time, and adding to overall congestion and waste.

As a small solution, United Airlines‘ Eco-Skies program recently partnered with Brooklyn ride-sharing startup Bandwagon to make affordable and eco-friendly transportation an option at United’s Newark International Airport terminal.

Flyers arriving in Terminal C can enter their final destinations in the Bandwagon app, which then searches for convenient transportation matches among the app’s users. Once a match is made, it is broadcasted, alongside United Eco-Skies advertising, on responsive displays throughout the baggage claim area, raising awareness of the app and United’s relationship with it.

The app then directs matches to a meet-up spot and they can then book and split fares through the app. Users have the option to use on-site transportation providers like traditional taxis or on-demand car service provides like Uber and Lyft.

“Reducing United’s emissions and helping our customers reduce theirs is one of the best ways we can act responsibly as a global airline,” said Angela Foster-Rice, United’s managing director of environmental affairs and sustainability.

The app only connects flyers to flyers, not flyers to vehicles so the app bypasses regulatory questions about some of the new services.

For example, peer-to-peer rental car company FlightCar has not signed operating permits with airports, which has been a big issue. San Francisco International Airport has been in the “discovery phase” of a lawsuit against FlightCar since May 2013. Other operations such as RelayRides and SilverCar have to go through the process of purchasing or aggregating fleets and formalizing relations with each hub.

Uber has also found big business at airports with flyers using its app to summon a car rather than wait on long taxi rides. Uber has also contemplated “curb churn” at airports and envisions regular drivers using the app to pick up arriving passengers after dropping off friends and family. In a sign of the complexity of airport transportation rules, Uber is banned at some airports in cities where it operates.

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Tags: app, newark airport, ridesharing, united airlines

Photo credit: A driver waits to pull away from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Vincent Desjardins / Flickr

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