Saigoneer

BackStories » Saigon » Higher Fee, Worse Pickup Location at Airport Draw Ire of Passengers, Rideshare Drivers

While aiming to reduce congestion at the domestic terminal, a new lane designation policy imposed by the Tan Son Nhat administration has created new inconveniences.

As Tuoi Tre reports, from November 14, Tan Son Nhat International Airport rolled out new regulations regarding how vehicles can enter and leave, especially taxis and ride-share cars. Specifically, the airport now limits which types of cars can use the four lanes at the domestic terminal.

Lane A, which is closest to the terminal, is restricted for vehicles dropping off departing passengers; pickups are not allowed. Lanes B and C are reserved for private vehicles picking up passengers after they land. Lane D, located within the TCP parking structure, is now for taxis. Rideshare vehicles like GrabCar and BeCar, however, are required to go to the 3rd, 4th or 5th floors of the parking garage to pick up customers. A service fee of VND25,000 is applied on any car entering the parking structure, instead of VND10,000 previously.

The lane reorganization has indeed partially improved the traffic situation at Tan Son Nhat, especially in Lane A, which was previously a traffic jam hotspot. Lanes B and C are now relatively empty, as few flyers travel to the airport by family car. The rules regarding rideshare cars, on the other hand, have been the target of major complaints by passengers.

According to many, the TCP parking garage only has two lifts, three staircases and no escalators, so to reach the designated areas for app-based cars, guests have to wait around for the lifts, which can’t adequately accommodate the volumes of passengers after several flights land at the same time. Those in a rush resort to carrying their own luggage up three to five flights of stairs.

Tan Son Nhat officials have defended the policy, citing its positive effect on reducing congestion. “Before reorganizing the lanes, we did thorough research,” Tan Son Nhat Deputy Director Phạm Vũ Cường told Zing in Vietnamese. “While licensed taxis have to form an orderly line outside, the majority of rideshare cabs are very messy in picking up guests. Even the three-minute limit is not followed.”

Moreover, the airport has rules in place stating that commercial transportation firms must bid for rights to operate in the terminal, and it would be unfair for cars from ride-hailing firms, without such a contract, to be able to pick up passengers at more convenient lanes.

At a November 23 meeting between the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport and the Southern Airports Authority regarding the furor over the new lane rules, the department requested that Tan Son Nhat update its traffic flow plan to include rideshare vehicles, reports Tuoi Tre. It referenced a new dangerous phenomenon in which passengers, not wanting to deal with the fees and stairs, drag their luggage all the way outside the airport to nearby roads in order to catch a ride.

A representative of the TCP parking structure shared at the event that it has installed resting areas for app-taxi drivers and guests waiting for cars. It promised to outfit the structure with two more lifts before Tết next year.

BeGroup, also present at the meeting, expressed interest in signing a licensing contract to operate at Tan Son Nhat with a designated lane. Grab too is in agreement, though the company stressed that the bidding process should have clear instructions and high levels of transparency.

The transport department proposed that Tan Son Nhat construct a pedestrian over- or underpass linking the terminal with the parking structure across the lanes to minimize interaction between passengers and cars.

[Top photo via VOV]