In a remarkable piece of investigative journalism, on June 3, 2014, Channel 11 in San Jose uncovered massive violations of the law by Uber drivers operating at SFO, including having no insurance, unlicensed drivers, unregistered vehicles, and ignoring Airport transportation rules.
Click here to read the full article: Uber, Lyft and Sidecar Operate at SFO Illegally
“You have to have certain permits and certain state authorizations to pick up at the airport, otherwise you are trespassing,” said San Francisco Police Department Commander Richard Corriea. “TNC drivers are not allowed to come into the airport and pick up passengers,” he said. “Ride service drivers shouldn’t operate here or at any airport in California without a valid permit.” Corriea said it is a safety issue. “We want to know who those drivers are. Are those vehicles safe? Are they insured? Are they properly permitted by the state?”
According to Channel 11, “In just the last three weeks, airport officials at SFO identified more than 295 TNC drivers without permits, and some who did not even have licenses. They also found drivers breaking their own company’s rules by borrowing cars or sharing company issued phones with drivers not approved by the TNC. Officials at Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles airports also issue citations to TNC drivers without permits. LAX police have written over 200 citations to UberX drivers in the last four months for illegally picking up passengers at the airport.”
Of those without permits at SFO, 235 were Uber drivers.
The CPUC mandates a vehicle have a permit before picking up or dropping off someone at the San Francisco Airport. On May 9, 2014, SFO Director John Martin wrote the CPUC noting that none of the so-called TNC (including Uber) has sought a permit. In early April 2014, SFO reminded Uber and others they must have permits, but Uber ignored the notice.
From April 16 to May 5, police based at the airport apparently performed a TNC crackdown, issuing warnings to 110 drivers for unpermitted operation. By May 15, the number of drivers to receive warnings from law enforcement had climbed above 150, according to SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel.
“Several drivers did not have proof of insurance,” Martin wrote. “One did not have a driver’s license.” Of the 110 who were discovered to be operating illegally, 101 were driving for Uber-X.
“Eighty percent of the Uber-X drivers did not have trade dress [logos marking them as TNCs] on their vehicles,” as required under the CPUC ruling, Martin wrote. “One Uber-X driver reportedly asked to an officer, ‘why should I advertise for them?’ Four of the Uber-x drivers had no proof of insurance.”
Click here to read the full SF Gate article: SFO Director Initiates Crackdown on Unpermitted Uber Drivers
A group of San Francisco taxi drivers, who have undergone police background checks, drive cars with meters that have regulated rates to prevent consumer gouging, have the statutorily required insurance to protect passengers as well as third parties in the event of an accident, and drive vehicles that have undergone periodic safety checks, all of which is required by law, are suing Uber on the basis it is a transportation company who has gained an unfair advantage by not complying with the law (e.g. not having insurance, not having the expense of inspecting and maintaining vehicles, or complying with other statutory requirements), and taken customers from the cabbies who are following the law. (See San Francisco Superior Court No. CGC 12-526017)
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