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Getting picked up by UberX or Lyft rides up away from congested terminal curbsides at San Francisco International Airport will be cheaper starting Friday.

Rideshare users who instead choose to be picked-up at the airport’s designated rideshare pick-up zone located on the top level of the domestic garage will save $3 off their total fare. (See photo at the top for exact location.)

The discount applies to UberX and Lyft rides — that’s the option where rideshare users get a car all to themselves and not carpool with others.

Starting Friday, you will see the garage pick-up option on the Uber or Lyft apps in order to take advantage of the new discount and the less-congested airport pick-up spot.To get to the top deck, you’ll take an elevator or escalator up from the ticketing level, then walk on a bridge over terminal roadways to the central parking deck.

On the way to the airport, you can ask your Uber or Lyft driver to drop you off in the rideshare zone on the central parking deck, too. This is a great way to avoid the early morning congestion on airport roadways, especially if you are running late for your flight. Your driver should veer to the left upon approaching the airport, following signs to Uber/Lyft lots or short term parking.

Over the past year or so, SFO has been aggressively trying to steer Uber and Lyft cars away from congested terminal roadways. The proliferation of rideshare services as a popular way to get to and from SFO has gridlocked traffic in recent years.

The airport has seen some degree of success in fighting the congestion, but fliers have complained about delays that still plague the “horseshoe.” The discount is the latest step to manage the issue.

“We’re focused on making SFO easier for travelers to access, and we’ve implemented premium pricing at our curbsides to alleviate traffic congestion around our terminals,” SFO Airport Director Ivar Satero said.

The aforementioned rideshare pick-up zone opened in July 2018 for UberPool and Lyft Shared trips only. Those are the cheaper options where riders carpool with others and make multiple stops on the way to your destination– not a popular option for those wanting to get home quickly from the airport!

The airport charges rideshare companies $3.60 per UberPool or Lyft Shared trip since all of those now pick-up at the domestic garage zone. SFO charges $5 per trip for curbside pick-ups. Uber and Lyft passes on some or all of these additional fees to the customer.

But the rideshare pick-up zone — at least from our frequent observations — has been underutilized with most rideshare customers telling us they’d rather pay a few extra bucks for the convenience of a curbside pick-up rather than add an extra 10 minutes to walk to the domestic terminal garage. Bulky luggage makes the journey even longer, many said.

At the international terminal, Uber and Lyft cars were moved away from the curb and to a new boarding zone in a center island between zones 14 and 17 in October 2018. That’s helped speed traffic along the curbside lanes of the upstairs departure level at the international terminal.

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Both Uber and Lyft said they worked collaboratively with the airport to devise this new option.

“This will prioritize convenience and help to reduce terminal congestion,” said Uber’s Director of Airport Operations in the U.S. and Canada Anita Natarajan.

“We appreciate the continued collaboration with San Francisco International Airport on how to best utilize curb space and loading zones and look forward to continued partnership to make sure people are getting to where they are going safely and efficiently,” said David Kunst, Lyft’s General Manager of Northern California.

Short stays of 30 minutes or less to SFO’s hourly parking garages continues to be free. That’s plenty of time to avoid curbside congestion and drop off passengers.

The airport is also using traffic signs to direct incoming cars to drop off fliers at the lower arrivals level when the upper departure level gets too congested.

Would you opt for a parking garage pickup to save $3 bucks? Let us know in the comments!

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Chris McGinnis is the founder of TravelSkills.com. The author is solely responsible for the content above, and it is used here by permission.  You can reach Chris at chris@travelskills.com or on Twitter @cjmcginnis.