There are more important stories than whether Los Angeles International Airport allows UberX and Lyft drivers to make pickups and drop-offs. I realize this. However, I got a chance on Wednesday to ask airport police chief Patrick Gannon why airport police have been assessing so many tickets recently to ride-sharing drivers.
“It is not fair to cite other taxis and limos for not following the applicable rules here at the airport and not apply the same rules to others,” Gannon said. “That is where the rub is. I would prefer that some agreement is made to allow everybody to work appropriately here. But in the meantime they are not sanctioned.”
As we’ve said before, there are two main issues. The first is that most drivers for UberX and Lyft do not have proper permits from LAX to legally make airport pickups. (LAX gets to make its own rules.) The second is that most drivers for the two ride-share companies lack commercial insurance. And since the drivers are providing a commercial service, the police say they should have the right insurance. Police spokeswoman Sgt. Belinda Nettles told me LAX officers gave out 112 citations for “no commercial insurance” in January alone. (Most of the insurance citations are considered “secondary violations,” which means that airport police pull over the drivers for another reason and then ask to see insurance papers.)
We know that elsewhere in California, drivers have found police more willing to look the other way. But Gannon said that’s not a feasible approach at LAX.
“I cant just ignore the rules and the law,” Gannon said. “That kind of puts my officers in a bad position as to to when they are having to enforce the law fairly across the board.”
Gannon did have some potentially good news for ride-sharing aficionados. He said some of the ride-share companies have been in talks with LAX management to get drivers the proper paperwork to operate there. Of course, those drivers would still need commercial insurance.
“There is a well established protocol as to how that works and a requirement for people to able to operate here,” Gannon said. “It’s all done for all the right reasons to make sure that we protect passengers and that they are not victimized by unscrupulous people.”