Hartsfield-Jackson rebids terminal-to-terminal shuttle contract, again

Long waits for shuttles between terminals at the Atlanta airport have at times vexed travelers
Passengers board the terminal-to-terminal shuttle at the international terminal on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2023.  (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Passengers board the terminal-to-terminal shuttle at the international terminal on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Steve Schaefer/steve.schaefer@ajc.com)

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is again rebidding its contract for shuttle service between the international and domestic terminals, the latest step after years of contracting delays.

The terminal-to-terminal shuttle service has generated complaints from travelers about long waits as they tried to get home after overseas flights.

Hartsfield-Jackson General Manager Balram Bheodari said in a written statement that the new contract “is certain to improve our passenger experience.”

“We are looking forward to a refresh in customer service and increased efficiency,” according to Bheodari.

The airport is inviting companies to compete for a two-year contract, with an option for a one-year renewal at the city of Atlanta’s discretion. The city runs the airport and manages the contracting process.

The contract would require operation of at least eight shuttles in rotation per hour, 365 days a year, with service every 15 minutes, according to a “request for proposals” document released Thursday.

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that passenger airport curbside wait times do not exceed 15 minutes,” the document says.

The shuttles take arriving international travelers with their baggage to the domestic terminal, where the MARTA station is, or to the rental car center. The shuttles operate outside the terminals, while the Plane Train inside the airport whisks ticketed passengers between terminals and concourses in security-screened areas.

The rebid comes after an Atlanta City Council committee last year declined to approve a contract for a new operator, after weeks of vehement opposition from the company that currently runs the service.

A-National Limousine has had the terminal-to-terminal shuttle contract since 2017. A contracting process for a new shuttle contractor began in 2020 but was canceled because of uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the airport. Another contracting process in 2022 was unsuccessful. Meanwhile, A-National’s contract has been extended multiple times.

Last year, Hartsfield-Jackson through the city’s contracting process chose a joint venture called ABM-All N One Security Services to operate the shuttles.

But A-National filed a protest of the decision and A-National representatives spoke at multiple council meetings over a period of weeks to voice their opposition.

A-National contended that ABM-All N One Security Services should not win the contract under the terms released including a small business enterprise requirement, because New York-based ABM is a large firm. ABM’s partner All N One Security Services is an Atlanta-based contract security firm certified as a Small Business Enterprise.

City council member Marci Collier Overstreet said last November after the council committee’s decision that officials needed to rebid the contract “with clear guidelines.”

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