NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A multi-billion dollar construction project at LaGuardia Airport is causing more than a minor inconvenience.
Many travelers have to take another trip before they head home and many are now complaining of price gouging.
On the Sunday night after July 4th, frustrated passengers fresh off a flight thought the long line outside the airport was for a yellow taxi to get out of LaGuardia’s Terminal B.
At the front they find out, “you get to board the shuttle bus,” an airport worker said.
They’re then crammed on a standing room only shuttle bus to a different taxi stand at another terminal.
“Do we have to stand in the back of the line when we get to Terminal A?” Charles pehlivanian of Manhattan asked.
“No there’s going to be plenty of taxis,” the LaGuardia worker replied.
That was not true.
“Please make a line behind the passengers,” another worker said as the shuttle bus passengers were then told they can also order a ride-share from a 7-11 up the road.
Passengers were also told it would be a five to six minute wait – that was actually 25 to 45 minutes with traffic.
Back at Terminal B, one desperate yellow taxi broke the rules to pick up a fare.
Nearby, aggressive hustlers prey on other people waiting.
“It’s a long line, gotta car ready to go if you don’t wanna wait,” one ride-share driver said.
It’s a problem CBS2’s Marcia Kramer first exposed in 2016. CBS2 counted at least three within a half-hour stalking potential fares at LaGuardia.
“I got a black car. It’s 95 plus tolls though,” the driver said.
That was the quote for a ride to Midtown Manhattan – more than double the average – which is about $40 according to Taxifarefinder.com.
“It’s an Uber car, but we’re not going through the app, you track it thru GPS,” a driver claimed to CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
“What kind of like license do you have?” Rozner inquired.
“It’s government ID, New York State ID… The ID is irrelevant, you need a ride right?” the driver continued.
The TLC says it is relevant and so does the Port Authority police.
CBS2 showed the video to one of the top officer’s at the airport’s police department who admits the problem is worse, but they’ve stepped up enforcement.
“Would the Port Authority police consider putting a police officer at the end of these taxi shuttle lines because they get very long and that’s where we found these hustlers, but there were no officers,” Rozner asked police.
“We’re open to every opportunity. One thing I have to explain is we put plain-clothes officers out,” David Ehrenberg, executive officer of the Port Authority police said.
He also added there were 30 additional traffic cops at LaGuardia and tried to explain the reason for backups.
“As a result in managing the traffic, sometimes we actually have to create traffic because we’re holding up areas that are less vulnerable,” Ehrenberg said.
That traffic resulted in official Ubers and Lyfts stuck in backups approaching the pick-up area in the Terminal B parking garage.
When you add in weak cell service making it harder to reach customers, some riders give up.
“Four drivers cancelled on me. Two drivers just stopped outside, didn’t even move. So a total of six cars, 45 minutes, nobody showed up,” flyer John Santorelli said.
“The Lyft doubled in price from 25 to 45,” Nicole Rodriguez of Greenpoint said.
The Port Authority said the day after CBS2’s visit the quality of cell service was significantly enhanced. Construction continues until 2021, so passengers need to decide if the price for their flight is worth the pandemonium once they get off the plane.
The Port Authority added it hasn’t cut any airport services during the construction. For now, Uber said it’s blocked drivers who cancel too often from doing airport pickups and Lyft claimed that driver cancellations do not lead to higher prices.