San Francisco International Airport: Tracking the future
4 April 2016 • Author(s): Ian Law, Deputy Director and CIO at San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has driven a revolutionary solution to integrate transportation network companies (TNCs) into their existing ground transportation business model. Ian Law, Deputy Director and CIO at SFO, reveals the innovative app-based system.
Airports face a unique challenge when integrating TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft, into their existing ground transportation business model. As one of the first airports in the United States to create an airport permit process for TNCs, SFO was at the forefront of these integration challenges. Faced with the need for robust trip-tracking information without the benefit of vehicle transponders or clear commercial vehicle markings, SFO created an innovative app-based commercial transportation (ABCT) system. The ABCT system provides real-time data to support all aspects of airport TNC operations, including roadway planning, billing verification and enforcement of airport rules and regulations.
By 2012 both Uber and Lyft had established mobile ride-hailing businesses in San Francisco. Being a region of early adopters, such concepts became increasingly popular, leading SFO to begin evaluating the steps necessary to create a permit structure to allow legal operation of these businesses at the airport.
In July 2013 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) offered a legal framework for such businesses to operate throughout the state, proposing a set of regulations and coining the term ‘Transportation Network Company’, to describe the business. The rules were approved in September 2013 and a state permit process, similar to other forms of commercial ground transportation, was established later that year.
In order to operate at an airport in California, the CPUC required TNCs to hold both the state-issued permit as well as specific approval from that airport. Throughout the development of this regulatory framework, SFO worked with TNCs including Uber and Lyft to define an airport-specific permit structure to ensure a level playing field with existing forms of commercial ground transportation. In October 2014, SFO became the first airport in the state to implement a TNC airport permit, and the first airport in the United States to complete agreements with both Uber and Lyft.