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Airports Speed Up Plans to Regulate Ridesharing Apps

Discussion in 'General Rideshare Forum' started by Dreamer, Jan 20, 2015.

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  1. Dreamer

    Dreamer
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    When your plane touches down, you know the drill: You whip out your phone to call someone to pick you up – or you open an increasingly popular ride-hailing app like Uber, Lyft or Sidecar.

    Yet if you’ve used one of these popular apps, which match ride-seekers with drivers who use their personal vehicles, at an airport in Southern California, there’s a good chance your pickup broke the law.

    “All the other options for ground transportation pay some fee to the airport, and these guys are not now doing that anywhere, except (San Francisco International Airport),” said Jim Lites, executive director of the California Airports Council, an industry trade group representing the state’s commercial airports.

    But now area airports, which heavily regulate transportation of passengers, are working to change that. John Wayne Airport is leading the local crackdown. Los Angeles, Ontario and San Diego are among the major regional airports that also have regulations in the works.

    “We are working directly with these companies to create a permit that allows them to operate at John Wayne Airport fairly and equitably the way other ground transportation companies operate,” said airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge.

    She added the airport hopes to have regulations approved by county leaders by early February.

    Wedge explained that other vehicles picking up travelers from airports for money have to jump through hoops to get the privilege – and there are safety reasons for that.

    Super Shuttle, Yellow Cab, even a limo picking up someone at an airport must have approved agreements with the airport to do so. Those agreements come with requirements such as insurance, fingerprinting, random drug testing, a copy of the driver’s vehicle registration on file – and per-trip fees.

    “I think the basic issue is the airport is a publicly managed property,” Lites offered. “If you want to include airport trips within your business model, because obviously you don’t have to, then there’s a privilege to pay for the use of those public roads for a commercial purpose.”

    CLAMPING DOWN

    Ride-hailing companies have been under increasing pressure from the state to get in line with the law.

    The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates many private transportation companies in the state, sees the need to clamp down on companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar primarily as a matter of public safety.

    State rules governing these companies first went into effect in September 2013. Then in June, the state commission warned UberX, Lyft and several other companies that if they didn’t comply with individual airports’ permitting processes, they could lose their state operating permits and be subject to random audits. UberX is Uber’s cheapest ride-hailing service, which utilizes drivers without commercial licenses using their own vehicles.

    Eva Behrend, a spokeswoman with Uber, said the company hasn’t obtained a permit for pick-ups at any airport in California but SFO. But Behrend offered that commercially licensed drivers who seek their own airport permits can legally use the Uber platform to conduct airport pick-ups.

    Nationally, Uber has struggled to keep its image afloat, after customers in Boston and Chicago accused drivers of sexually assaulting them. The company was banned in New Delhi in December after a customer accused a driver of rape. And regulations are beginning to pop up in other states to establish rules for how these companies work.

    California’s warning letter said law enforcement at five major international airports in the state had strong evidence that drivers using certain ride-hailing apps had been picking up passengers without a permit.

    “I would like to express my personal disappointment and concern about this behavior,” wrote Michael R. Peevey, then-president of the CPUC, who warned the state would not “accept consumer choice at the expense of consumer safety.”

    Mark Gonzales, airport police services bureau chief with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, said illegal drivers at John Wayne Airport haven’t been much of a problem.

    “At times, rarely they’ve come to our attention, they’ve received a citation,” said Gonzales, who acknowledged it’s hard to tell whether drivers are friends or someone using an app. “It is just not enough of a problem that we’ve had to take enforcement action.”

    But that’s not the case at other airports in the state where airport officials say the drivers could be creating traffic jams, such as LAX.

    Private vehicle use makes up about 30 percent of traffic at LAX, according to Stephen Martin, chief operating officer for Los Angeles World Airports. Martin argued that implementing a permit could increase airport efficiency.

    JOHN WAYNE’S FUTURE VIRTUAL FENCE

    Wedge said JWA is hoping to bring permit consideration to the airport commission by the end of this month, and seek county approval by early February. The permit would include a per-trip charge of $2.25 per pickup and impose certain insurance requirements, Wedge said. In addition, the airport would build a “geofence” that would flag an app-requested driver.

    Tim Conlon, general manager and president of California Yellow Cab, one of two taxi companies permitted to operate at John Wayne Airport, said he hopes the permit regulating ride-hailing companies will create an “even playing field” with the taxi companies.

    As of now, the companies are cutting into cab profits in Orange County. “We’ve got a very structured contract with the airport, with pretty substantial costs involved,” Conlon said.

    “We’re not talking about a whole lot. We’re talking about buying a valid insurance policy, inspecting vehicles by a third party that knows what to look for, and we’re talking about drug testing and background checks of drivers,” Conlon said. “It’s not all that complicated.”

    But Wedge said that John Wayne Airport will not require drug testing or fingerprinting of drivers operating through these ride-hailing apps, because it’s not required by state or county regulations.

    Cabs, on the other hand, are required to submit to annual and random drug testing and fingerprinting because it is required by the Orange County Taxi Administration Program.

    TRANSPORTATION REVOLUTION

    Ride-hailing companies are hopeful that the county’s permit will allow them to legally operate at John Wayne.

    “Southern California is one of our biggest and fastest-growing markets,” said Margaret Ryan, a spokeswoman for Sidecar. “Our drivers receive frequent ride requests to and from John Wayne Airport and are very interested in serving the airport as soon as possible.”

    But the digital world keeps changing. For example, the state issued warnings to app-based companies for implementing new ride options called Lyft Line and Uber Pool, in which passengers heading in the same direction can share the same driver. Such services violate California state law, according to a November letter from the state.

    For Susan Shaheen, adjunct professor at the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley, the struggle to regulate these companies at airports highlights a larger issue: a continually transforming transportation landscape.

    “This level of change and disruption that we’ve observed since 2010 is not letting up. There are more services coming online every day,” Shaheen said.

    She noted change also includes long-time taxi companies adding apps that help riders get connected with drivers.

    “Now, there’s more of a reason to become competitive and to enter into this app-based environment in order to survive,” Shaheen said of the taxi companies. “But would they have done it otherwise? And how long would it have taken?”

    For Conlon, the question of security remains.

    “Most cab companies have some kind of smartphone app they’ve developed before or after Uber. That part of it is great, it’s not the issue,” he said. “It’s who is operating that vehicle, who is insuring that vehicle, and who is making sure that vehicle is safe.”

    CLARIFICATION: Due to incorrect information provided to the Register, it was unclear in a previous version of this article that commercially-licensed drivers with seperate airport transportation agreements using the Uber app are allowed to conduct airport pick-ups and drop-offs.

    “Uber is still available at airports throughout…California, through commercially-licensed driver partners who partner with the uberX, uberXL, UberPLUS, UberBLACK, and UberSUV,” said Eva Behrend, a spokeswoman with Uber.
    https://www.techwire.net/airports-speed-plans-regulate-ridesharing-apps/
     
  2. Chris1mission

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    interesting
     
  3. rave

    rave
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    so 2 mos have passed since this article....and ???????
     
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