LAX cracks down on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar; Source says there have been 200 citations since December


UPDATE: See my new post: UberX halts all LAX pickups amid increased police vigilance

Watch out, ride-sharing aficionados.

Los Angeles International Airport is cracking down on UberX, Lyft and Sidecar drivers making pickups in the Central Terminal Area. A law enforcement source told me that Los Angeles World Airports police have issued 200 citations and made two arrests of ride-sharing drivers since December. The majority of those citations, the source said, have been to UberX drivers.

Despite the recent California Public Utilities Commission decision that allowed the companies to operate freely statewide, drivers from the trio are still barred from picking up at LAX, which can make its own rules. To make airport pickups for money, livery drivers must obtain what are called TCP numbers from the state. (Drivers for Uber, the fancier car service owned by the same company, already have these numbers and are legally permitted to make airport pickups.)

The good news is that drivers do not need to be licensed to drop off travelers, so you can continue to take ride-sharing companies to the airport without fear your driver will be stopped.

Also good news: Only the drivers are cited, so you don’t have much to worry if you’re a passenger. About the worst that will happen is you’ll be asked to get out of the car.

“Most passengers don’t know what the rules are,” said Sgt. Karla Ortiz of Los Angeles World Airports police. “They don’t understand them. They are just here and need transportation. We understand that. But the drivers need to know what the rules are and they need to follow those rules.”
I wrote a story about this issue in October. At the time, several people told me, the airport was not enforcing its own rules. But even then, drivers were aware of them. This is what passenger Derek Pugh told me:

Drivers call and ask Pugh to wait in unusual places, such as in front of the Iberia Airlines sign at the airport’s main international terminal or between Terminals 1 and 2. Then, when the car pulls up, Pugh, 28, often puts his own luggage in the trunk and sits in the front seat. “That way,” Pugh said, “it really looks like they were picking up a family member.”

I believe the airport and ride-sharing companies are seeking to implement a program that would allow drivers to register for some sort of permission to serve the airport. So it’s possible this crackdown will be a short-term thing.

Here’s what Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes had to say.

“Consistent with the CPUC’s recent decision, we look forward to
working with the authorities to resolve these issues and ensure that
Uber riders have the best possible experience being picked up at LAX.”

Also a Tipster pointed me to this discussion on Uber’s public Facebook page. It’s pretty interesting. It can be found, at least for now, here.  



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  • brothenberg

    Direct from the LAX PD.. “Yes. We are citing for 171.02b LAMC for picking up without a permit. City attorney is filing 80% and tossing out 20%” — Drivers beware..

    • Alex Isakov

      LAX PD is the worst bunch of all. They have nothing else to do. They used to crack down on cab drivers, just because the trip log is missing one last trip. C’mon fucktards, it’s LADOT’s job to check on trip logs. You should have more serious things to take care of.

      • brothenberg

        Huh, the rides are clearly illegal. The officer has been pretty chill and emails back on the issue. They are doing their job.. there are tons and tons of fake cabs (lots from Koreatown, etc).. have you seen the movie “bone collector” its all about safety and well money.. one or two companies have already setup a system with LAX to operate, Brian has not covered them yet.. but there will be some shining stars from all this who setup things correctly with LAX. LAX is happy to collect a spreadsheet of a rides and a check.. Uber/Lyft/Sidecar need to get off their buts and talk to them.. but its been done by at least one or two others.. just wait..

        • Steve Walker

          “””one or two companies have already setup a system with LAX to operate””

          What kind of companies? Limo Companies or App companies?

  • disqus_R3TmO5tGQi

    You can take a free hotel shuttle to a nearby hotel, then LYFT can pick up from there… Just sayin. :-)

  • Charlie

    Interetsed in trying out the service for yourself? Get yourself a free ride on Lyft using promo-code LOSANGELES!

  • Nathan Sunshine

    If LAX has a problem with Lyft, it needs to take the matter up with our bosses. I drive for Lyft, and if they send me to LAX to pick someone up, I am not allowed to turn down that ride. I’m not going to loose my job because LAX and the cab companies haven’t come up with a solution to this problem.

    In case it matters, Lyft says that they will defend me in court against any citation or action by the LAPD at LAX.

  • Nathan Sunshine

    Funny, but I didn’t loose my job because I refused to pick up people for Lyft at the airport, but because I was an “unsafe driver”. Apparently a flawless driving record over a 10 year period with no accidents or moving violations gave Lyft pause. Or maybe it was uncorroborated statements by riders. I did find it an interesting coincidence that Lyft fired me only about 48 hours after I posted my previous comments to this forum—of course I’m sure that’s all it is.

    Although, if I am thinking of hypotheticals here, and I take the position on that basis that someone at Lyft didn’t like my comments, here’s how I would correct my previous statement.

    Hypothetically speaking, maybe Lyft doesn’t have their driver’s backs if they are challenged at LAX. Maybe drivers who are concerned with protecting themselves have every right to refuse to drive people to or pick up people from LAX. After all, according to the law, it is ILLEGAL for Lyft to service the airport (although I am not a lawyer, so what do I know). They are equally irresponsible for not having made their peace with the cabs, LAX, and state and local legislatures. After thinking about my previous statement some more, if I were still a driver with Lyft, I would have serious concerns over whether I would receive any support if the police at LAX enforced the law. Although maybe things have changed with how they treat their employees in the last 13 days.

    The law says that if a person services LAX for money without the airport’s permission, and the police catch them, that driver’s car can be impounded, the driver cited, and it is an arrestable offense (although few drivers have actually been arrested). If I were still a driver, I would seriously question whether I would receive as much support fighting such consequences as I would prefer.

    But Lyft is basically a start up (about 2 years old), and should be expected to have a few things it still has to work out. Much of their business model is impressive, and they provide a quality product. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lyft looks like in a few years once these issues have been resolved.

    Lyft is one of several great relatively new ride sharing businesses, which also include Uber and Sidecar.

  • Amy Driver

    I have made Lyft a portion of my daily routine. I am a student that is very active and that i just do not have the necessary time or taxi cabs. Lyft is simple and fairly affordable for me to get although I really don’t have the cash to afford a car payment. Lyft has saved me when I have a couple of drinks with my friends many times as well as go out. Finding a ride that is totally free to check the service out was a triumph in my own novel, haha.

  • herzog00

    NJ has similar problems and the Uber & Lyft drivers often ask me to ride in the front so that the police don’t stop them. I don’t mind sitting in the front. I use Lyft very often and glad to have the service in the area. I got free rides using coupon codes posted here:

  • Jared E.

    I know it’s been a few months since the article was made, but it looks like Lyft/Uber can pickup from LAX now. Wonder how that worked out…