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Hartsfield-Jackson terminal connector shuttle contract cost rises

Terminal connector shuttle at Hartsfield-Jackson
Terminal connector shuttle at Hartsfield-Jackson

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will pay nearly $3.4 million more to shuttle passengers between the international terminal and domestic terminal.

That's because the airport added larger buses that now require drivers with commercial driver licenses and costs more to operate.

The current contract isn’t due to expire until Dec. 28, but airport officials want the Atlanta City Council to approve the higher cost now and to extend the contract for a year.

The contractor that runs the terminal-to-terminal shuttle service, also known as the international shuttle connector, is longtime airport contractor A-National Limousine.

A-National's president is Darrell Anderson, a longtime family friend of former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The two, along with other investors, owned property together. A-National previously managed shuttle service to Atlanta's central business district and held a curbside management contract, which an airport audit found had a potential organizational conflict of interest. However, a council committee chose not to cancel the contract because they were advised they didn't have sufficient grounds.

According to a conflict of interest disclosure form included in the city council document, Anderson’s sister and daughter work for the city.

The three-year contract with A-National was finalized near the end of Reed's term and was originally for $3.3 million in the initial year to run a fleet primarily made up of 15-passenger vans. As traveler volumes grew, larger passenger buses were added to the fleet, including two electric buses, according to airport officials. The cost has increased to more than $5 million a year due to the need for higher wages for drivers, more hours and increased insurance costs, the officials said.

Due to the need for commercial driver licenses for drivers of the bigger buses, the hourly labor rate for drivers for the shuttles increased from $11.86 to $18.21, according to airport documents.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a more than 90% drop in travel, Hartsfield-Jackson general manager John Selden said. But, even though there are fewer passengers, more space is needed, Anderson said. “We were looking at reducing vehicles or staffing, but if we did that we could not comply with… social distancing,” Anderson said.

International shuttle connector

Because Atlanta-bound passengers cannot access secured areas of the Airport after they pick up their luggage at the international terminal baggage claim, a free shuttle links passengers between the international terminal and domestic terminal, where the MARTA station is. It’s a 15-minute ride.

There’s also a shuttle from the international terminal to the rental car center.

The airport plans to increase the value of the shuttle contract for the service to close to $5.1 million a year.