Study critical of shuttle service at Hartsfield

A study of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s ground transportation operations points to several areas where the airport deviates from the industry standard, including one contract that could be seen as a conflict of interest.

The Atlanta airport began reviewing the operations after its ground transportation manager was put on leave earlier this year amid an investigation, then resigned.

Consulting firm Ricondo & Associates is doing the ground transportation benchmark survey for the airport, but it is not yet finalized. It compares Hartsfield-Jackson to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver and Orlando, according to a PowerPoint presentation on the study’s status.

The study points to an issue that has arisen since the May opening of the airport’s international terminal as a second entrance to the airport. Some but not all hotels and off-airport parking courtesy shuttles serve the international terminal. In cases where they don’t, travelers may need to take two shuttles — the courtesy shuttle and the airport’s terminal-to-terminal shuttle.

“The reluctance of courtesy vehicle operators to serve both terminals is placing a heavier-than-expected requirement on ATL’s inter-terminal shuttle and increasing airport operating expenses,” according to Ricondo.

Courtesy shuttle operators can serve the international terminal, but aren’t required to do so.

Another contract “leads to a perception of, if not a real, conflict of interest,” according to Ricondo. One company — A-National Limousine — has a contract for airport curbside management to handle taxis, customer service, traffic congestion and other services, and also operates shuttles between the airport and downtown, Midtown and Buckhead.

“Typically, if a third-party contractor is used to manage curbs or dispatching/starter operations, they are not also offering transportation services in the form of service providers,” the presentation said. A limousine coalition raised similar concerns.

The airport’s policies for the shuttles are also “not consistent with industry standards,” according to Ricondo. A-National has been handling shared-ride shuttles on an interim basis since 2010 while the city works toward officially contracting out the work. Other airports surveyed did not grant exclusive rights unless they granted the service through a request for proposals process, according to Ricondo.

The airport said its general manager, Louis Miller, has not yet reviewed the study, and no decisions have been made yet on the findings.

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