But that apparently wasn’t enough to make the contract viable.
“We brought a national presence to the game and weren’t able to get enough critical mass,” Bird said. “The airport transportation landscape is changing pretty rapidly these days.” SuperShuttle has cut service in some other cities, including in Colorado, according to news reports.
The company had asked for concessions from airport officials. But the airport declined to grant those requests.
One request SuperShuttle made, which was denied, was to reduce the fees it pays to the airport annually.
SuperShuttle had submitted a bid of $455,000 for Hartsfield-Jackson’s shared-ride shuttle contract. That was about three times the minimum bid and $184,000 more than the second-highest bid.
The program called Clear works in conjunction with Pre-Check and developers say it will save passengers valuable time at the airport.
A SuperShuttle executive said at the time that the company could operate profitable with its bid amount, because it typically charges 50 percent or 60 percent the cost of a cab fare.
Atlanta city council member C.T. Martin, who now chairs the transportation committee, warned at the time that the shared-ride shuttle contract is “not a profit-making scenario,” targeting the market in between the convenience of cabs or limos and the affordability of MARTA at $2.50 a ride. And with new competition from mobile app-driven ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, “it’s going to be even worse,” Martin said. That could prompt the winning bidder to raise concerns about contract terms down the road, he predicted then.
Uber X charges less than cabs, and has a lower-priced uberPOOL shared-ride option.
Miguel Southwell, then the manager of Hartsfield-Jackson, was optimistic back then. “Shared-ride shuttles operate profitably across the country,” he said at the time.
Another request SuperShuttle made of the airport was to expand its service area to the rest of metro Atlanta beyond downtown, Midtown and Buckhead.
When SuperShuttle launched, “the local shared-ride shuttle services wanted assurances from the airport that SuperShuttle would only operate in the central business district,” said Hartsfield-Jackson spokesman Reese McCranie. “We kept our word and did not grant SuperShuttle the ability to expand beyond the central business district.”
The airport does not plan to seek a replacement operator for the central business district shared-ride shuttle airport contract, McCranie said. Instead, the licensed operators of local shared-ride shuttles in the rest of metro Atlanta will pick up the central business district service area, he said.
SuperShuttle said it has found alternative transportation for customers who had bookings beyond Feb. 28.
Airport shared-ride shuttle saga
2010 - Shared-ride shuttle airport contractor Atlanta Link shuts down its shuttles serving Atlanta’s central business district. A-National Limousine is selected as an interim operator of the shuttle service.
2013 - MTI Limo and Shuttle Services Inc. is picked for the airport shuttle contact, but an accident that sent shuttle passengers to the hospital prompts the airport to rebid the contract.
2014 - SuperShuttle wins the contract and launches service.
February 28, 2017 — SuperShuttle pulls out of Atlanta, saying it could not make the service viable.