Lyft brings back the taxi line as it desperately tries to crack the airport pickup

Ridesharing companies and airports have always had a bit of a fractious relationship. Riders looking to catch an Uber or Lyft have had to walk to parking garages, follow makeshift signage and find arbitrary pickup points, all while waiting multiples of the ETA for their pickup at busy airports.

Lyft is piloting a new way to pair riders with drivers at the San Diego airport. It’s a Lyft line, but it’s not a carpooling product, it’s actually just a cab line.

Instead of matching with a driver, riders nabbing a regular Lyft will hop in a physical line at the airport and match up with a driver irl. They won’t have to tell them the address before the meter starts running, users will still enter everything in the app, but after doing so they will tell the driver a four-digit code that will sync the request with the driver and get everything moving.

It’s a bit funny when companies try everything only to settle on the old ways, but the fact is for fringe use cases, where everyone is grabbing a ride from a single location, having multiple pickup areas can just make everything move more slowly and coordinating can be tough when Lyft drivers are holding up the process having to wait for riders who are running late or at the wrong location.

Team all of this with the fact that cab companies have made life difficult for Lyft and Uber by lobbying airports to move pickup locations into remote corners and this might just be a way to make life easier for all parties involved.

This is a little bit of a different setup for rideshare users, so at the San Diego Terminal 2 airport pickup, Lyft is going to have some employees there to walk people through the setup. This is launching mid-May, so it’s way too early to guess whether this works and will eventually find its way to other airports — but we can all hope that either Lyft or Uber discover how to make the process easier for everyone.