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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Traffic stop: What happens when airport police pulls over an UberX driver

This is from my story in Saturday’s newspaper …

Jessica Harris, 25, of Los Angeles said she was not aware there might be a problem when she ordered a Honda Accord recently through UberX.

“Literally, five minutes after we leave the airport we get pulled over by a police officer,” Harris said. “I was a little confused and a little nervous. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did I do something wrong?’ He pulled me out of the car and he explained to me the problem. He said, ‘Don’t worry you’re not in trouble.’ He said, ‘You can call another car or I can call a cab for you.’ ”

She said her driver did not want to admit he was dispatched by UberX, but she felt she had no choice but to tell the truth to the officer. “He was like, ‘What service did you order this car from?’ ” she said. “I felt horrible. I felt so bad.”

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Read the letter: Sidecar advises drivers to avoid LAX

sidecar
On Friday night I tweeted that Sidecar, like UberX, was also pulling its services from Los Angeles International Airport. But upon further review, I see that is not exactly true.

According to an email I received from the company, Sidecar has advised its drivers that they should probably avoid LAX due to increased enforcement of airport regulations by police.

But they’re leaving that decision up to drivers, who are essentially independent contractors. So you can still use the app to order a Sidecar. But whether they come is another matter. (The good news is that even if your driver gets cited for an illegal pickup, you’ll be free to go.)

Here is the communique from Sidecar to its drivers:

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Why can’t UberX, Lyft and Sidecar make LAX pickups?

Lyft is banned from picking up passengers at LAX. Photo credit: Associated Press.

Lyft is banned from picking up passengers at LAX. Photo credit: Associated Press.

A blog is a great place for short bursts of information. But sometimes, we still need the newspaper.

In Saturday’s newspaper, I explain the entire saga of why Lyft, Sidecar and UberX are banned from picking up passengers at LAX.  Below is the gist, but click on the link for the full story, including an account from a passenger who was in the car when her driver was pulled over.

“Amid a police crackdown on casual drivers illegally soliciting fares at Los Angeles International Airport, popular ride-sharing brand UberX moved Friday to halt pickups in the Central Terminal Area, though it will continue facilitating rides to the airport.

Since December, police have stepped up their enforcement of little-known regulations designed to protect livery and taxi drivers, frustrating ride-sharing drivers and leaving their customers bewildered. In the past two months, a law enforcement source said, Los Angeles World Airports police have cited about 200 drivers and made two arrests for illegal pickups on the upper and lower roadways.

The vast majority of Los Angeles Municipal Code citations, the source said, went to drivers for UberX, perhaps the most recognizable brand in an industry that includes competitors Lyft and Sidecar. Last week, Sidecar also told its drivers they might want to avoid LAX pickups, though its mobile phone application still allows them.

While the California Public Utilities Commission last year endorsed the right of the three firms and others like them to operate statewide, its decision left intact special arrangements at airports, which have the right to decide what cars may use them. Los Angeles International allows only properly licensed livery and taxi drivers to pick up passengers, and most drivers at the three major ride-sharing companies lack the proper credentials. Usually, drivers for UberX, Lyft and Sidecar are driving their own cars and are dispatched to fares by a mobile phone application.”

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

UberX

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.

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