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Airport Miscellany

This Airport Might Charge You for Dropping Someone Off

Boston’s Logan Airport is considering something that, quite frankly, caught us all by surprise: Passthrough fees for bringing people to the airport.

The Massachusetts Port Authority is partnering with the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), an environmental group, to study the effects of charging drivers for picking up or dropping off at the terminal. Neither group revealed what that fee would be, but presumably the study will aim to establish a reasonable amount, if one exists.

The groups cite congestion and pollution at the airport as reasons for the study. Massport officials say 20,000 cars arrive at Logan each day to pick up or drop off travelers. In exchange for the study, the CLF agreed not to oppose the construction of 5,000 new parking spaces at the airport. The study also coincides with significant improvements to mass transit at Logan and other changes aimed at reducing the airport’s carbon footprint.

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“Our goal is [to] boost public transit and ride-share options for city and suburban residents,” the CLF said in a statement. “Passthrough rates have been put into effect in other busy airports and it is prudent to at least explore the potential impacts of a similar program here in Boston.”

Putting aside the impact this will have on travelers in Boston, the study does appear to reflect an emerging trend. As cities move toward greener policies, excessive airport congestion is a low-hanging fruit of sorts, especially in cities with decent transit infrastructure. Bostonians may be hesitant to say the current system is “decent,” but Logan, which is close to downtown and accessed by multiple subway and bus lines, is a good candidate for this kind of study.

Which is not to say travelers will like it. Under this system, there would be no such thing as a free ride to the airport. Presumably (hopefully?) the passthrough fee will be equivalent to a one-way bus or subway ticket, so around $2-3. Not a wallet-buster, but it’s another nuisance added to the already nuisance-riddled process of flying from one place to another. The policy also seems likely to increase the cost of a taxi or rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft. But if the effect is to thin out back ups at the terminals (and, of course, cut down on pollution in and around the airport), perhaps that’s money well spent.

Readers, what do you think? Are passthrough fees for dropping off or picking up at the airport a bridge too far? Would you be happy to pay a few bucks for the convenience and ancillary benefits?

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By Carl Unger

Contributing Editor Carl Unger believes that every trip is worth taking. He loves an extended trip to Europe as much as he enjoys exploring the towns and landscape near home. Basically, you'll find him wherever there is good food, fresh air, and plenty of stories to bring home.

Carl has been writing for SmarterTravel since 2005. His travel writing has also appeared on USA Today and the About.com Boston travel guide.

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