At the end of last month, travelers into or out of Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson airport, the country’s busiest, had one fewer option for getting to or from the airport. SuperShuttle, operator of the once-ubiquitous blue vans, suspended its Atlanta shared-ride service.
According to a company statement:
The landscape for airport transportation is changing rapidly and those changes have made the airport contract in Atlanta undesirable for our company. A lack of exclusivity coupled with a tightly restricted service area and onerous fees made it impossible to do business and still provide high quality customer service.
No doubt those were contributing factors. But the more pressing reason for SuperShuttle’s failure in Atlanta went conspicuously unmentioned: the availability of convenient, affordable ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
When the choice was between the high cost of a taxi and a much cheaper SuperShuttle ride, the cost savings was worth the inconvenience of sharing a van with other travelers, and accommodating your pick-up and drop-off schedule to theirs. But now that Uber offers taxi-like convenience for prices that are closer to SuperShuttle’s, SuperShuttle is a much less compelling option. The market has been disrupted.
After withdrawing from the Atlanta market, SuperShuttle still has operations in more than 38 markets. But as Uber and Lyft continue expanding into other SuperShuttle markets, the company will be hard pressed to maintain much less grow its business.
SuperShuttle provided a solid service in its time. I used it frequently in the 1990s, and often recommended it to other travelers. But its time is past, and not just in Atlanta.
Reader Reality Check
Does SuperShuttle have a future?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.