LAX is citing UberBlack and UberSUV drivers for not gathering enough info on passengers

Uber is running into problems at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Uber

Uber is running into problems at Los Angeles International Airport. Photo: Uber

Police at Los Angeles International Airport have begun to enforce little known rules that make it slightly more difficult for two of the most popular ride-sharing services — UberBlack and UberSUV — to pick up passengers at terminals.

Drivers for two companies have received about 15 administrative citations in the past two weeks, according to a Los Angeles World Airports police source. The transgression? The drivers have failed to produce to police officers a valid “waybill.” That essentially means the drivers aren’t gathering enough information on passengers.

The good news is that UberBlack and UberSUV are still making LAX pickups. Also, as a passenger, you have nothing to worry about — only the driver will be cited by police.

Here’s the deal. The airport gets to make its own rules about who can make terminal pickups. According to Los Angeles World Airports Police Sgt. Karla Ortiz, drivers making pickups at LAX in exchange for money must first learn some key details about their fare, and the driver must have that information in writing. Ortiz said this is some of the information required:

  1. Name of the customer
  2. The terminal pickup location
  3. The arrival time of the customer
  4. Airline flight number
  5. Date the ride was arranged.
  6. Passenger’s destination.

If you’re a regular UberBlack or UberSUV customer, you probably know the problem. The mobile phone app doesn’t ask most of this information, and thus the driver won’t have it to produce to police unless the driver calls you first.

“If they are missing the flight number, if they are missing the airline, if they are missing the terminal, or they hare missing the destination, that would qualify as an incomplete waybill,” Ortiz said. “It would have to meet all those requirements for it to be a valid waybill.”

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Uber, said in an email that there’s a quick fix.

“We communicated previously to UberBLACK and UberSUV partners that drivers should call the rider as soon as they accept a request from LAX to record all fields that are incomplete on their electronic waybill,” Noyes said. “We’ll be sending out another reminder this week as well.”

On Reddit, a driver posted a photograph of a citation he or she claims to have received from airport police. The driver in that case was cited for “Soliciting” and “Failure to Possess Valid Waybill.”

You may remember last month, when I wrote about a LAX crackdown against UberX, Sidecar and Lyft. At the time, a police source told me that airport police had assessed 200 citations to drivers in a two-month period. Afterward, UberX halted all pickups at LAX.

This situation does not sound as dire. I wouldn’t characterize it as a crackdown. But it will be interesting to see what happens next.

As for why the waybill exists?

“It is just part of the enforcement to always look at the waybill,” Ortiz said. “They are the only way we can make sure that people who are conducting business at the airport are doing it properly.”

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  • Gary Leff

    And what possible public purpose is there to cite Uber drivers for not having in writing in advance the flight number of a passenger they’ve been summoned to pick up?

    • Steve Walker

      Think it was just a deterrent from having limo drivers troll the airport asking if anyone needed a ride. Thus taking business away from the Taxis. The line of delineation between taxis and limos has always been prearrangement. If someone made no plans for transportation from the airport then they belonged to the taxi or public transportation. If you made prearranged plans you belonged to the limousine companies. And if you made plans they should be able to produce a piece of paper showing those plans. Thus giving you a reason to be at the airport. No paper no reason for you to be at the airport as a limo (Uber blacks are basically limos).

      Then Uber comes along and the PUC ruled that making the request for a car right at the last minute was still prearrangement even if it was only 10 seconds before you needed it thus regulating them as Limos and not Taxis.

      So to do it right and legal the Uber black driver gets the request near the terminal (because the request goes to the closest driver) he then has to drive out of the airport about 4 blocks away to get a trip ticket with all this customer information on it then head back to the airport to get the customer. That is at best a 20 minute process. Not many customers want to wait for that so I think many Uber drivers are just taking a shortcut and not getting the trip ticket at all. Thus LAX losing out on their $4.00 per pick up. They not gonna let that happen for too long, someone has to repave those roads!

      • Rock Malone

        Yeah they don’t have the manpower to police the Uber drivers

      • titleixsports

        @Steve Uber needs to dispatch into the terminals just as the shuttle companies do because each Uber driver is essentially working from a common “Dispatch.” The shuttle companies may have lobbied hard behind this one as they each payed over 7 figures to the city for the privilege to stage in the holding lot.

    • http://insidesocal.com/aviation Brian Sumers

      Gary –

      I think Steve has it right. The only livery drivers the airport wants on property during the day are ones who have a scheduled pickup. The airport doesn’t just want the drivers hanging out, possibly searching for non-prearranged rides.

      Back in the day, I’m sure the requested information was reasonable. People who wanted a car dialed up a car service, gave all their information, and the driver met the customer with a sign. The problem is that the LAX rules haven’t changed since the advent of smartphones. There’s really no reason for the driver to have your flight number now.

    • pitbullstew

      Gary I am going to try to be respectful to you as I can here, when in repsonse to your question I say?

      Because thats the regulations thats why.

      Those are one of the rules that have evolved in to what they are in the age in which we live, and in this example do business under.

      Its really that simple, the police have a who what where and why routine need to know and the completed way bill is a part of that.

      And BTW? Mayor Reardon levied a fee for livery vehicles to enter the airport, a transponder is affixed to the windshield, some one has to take the vehicle to be verified.

      When you arrive at holding you get a ticket to display on the dashboard that you would have identified which terminal you were going to pick up at.

      Like it or not, thems the rules.

      • Rock Malone

        F the rules

  • pitbullstew

    ROOKIES

  • Rock Malone

    I drove an Uber SUV during this time period. The thing about the citations for invalid waybills is they carry no monetary penalty nor do they require a court appearance.

    • Steve Walker

      That’s True Rock, But the penalty lies in that if you get multiple infractions your operating status at LAX could be terminated. Remember each of these drivers have their own TCP so each of them could be banned even if Uber is not. And there are multiple infractions a driver can get if they are not following the rules closely enough.

  • titleixsports

    At the end of the day Uber branded transportation disrupts the status quo. This is a simple programming fix on the part of Uber. As to what’s required within a waybill, the PUC doesn’t require a flt # upon a waybill. Uber drivers are not taxis, and therefore are generally governed by state regulations. The city has imposed added regulatory requirements. Notice you may drop-off at LAX, but you cannot randomly pick-up at LAX.

    Does anyone know how UberBlack, UberSUV, or UberXL stage in the holding lot? (i.e. which Uber provider would be “dispatched” into the terminals?) Thanks!

    • Steve Walker

      There was an article recently about Uber’s Geo-Fencing that may give you some insight into their dispatching. They have essentially blocked off the airport terminals for getting rides (so driver do not continually circle the loop) and the rides go to the closest driver in the holding lot on Jenny ave. So of course the drivers congregate in the lot at the closest point to the terminals but they do not really know if that makes much of a difference. That GPS i so screwy sometimes there is not telling how the job gets assigned.

      • titleixsports

        Thanks Steve