What's the deal with UberX and Lyft at Los Angeles International Airport?
For a long time, I covered LAX and wrote regularly about the on again, off again enforcement actions conducted by Los Angeles World Airports Police. For several months now, the airport has had a strong policy against allowing UberX and Lyft drivers to make pickups. But dropoffs have always been murkier. Some months, police would cite ride-share in droves. Other months, less so. A lot of the citations allege that the drivers have subpar insurance.
So what's happening this week? To be honest, I am not sure. But I think we're in one of those heavy enforcement periods. I say this because this week I received a Sept. 9 email from airport police Lt. Joaquin Mendez that went out to airport employees. It appears he is telling police to cite rideshare drivers for some infractions, but not to impound their cars.
Lt. Mendez is not the clearest writer but let's see if we crowd source this and determine his purpose:
I wanted to clarify the email that Sergeant John Hernandez sent out on Saturday concerning our present activity involving TNC’s. You are instructed to continue enforcement against all TNC’s in the same manner as before. The most common applicable citations that we have issued as a matter of routine are for lack of trade dress, lack of proof of commercial insurance, no valid permit or airport authority to operate, no valid way bill or trip ticket, and any other violation under the rules of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the Vehicle Code, or LAWA’s own internal Airport Rules and Regulations (in the case of drivers already enrolled in the Permit Program such as limousines bearing TCP numbers). Upper or lower levels are fair game.
The issue of impounding the vehicles in conjunction with a citation came up because the CPUC had recently proposed the idea of doing away with civil compromises (for the TNC company LYFT in particular, who seem to be the biggest offenders in the CTA). CPUC felt that by not offering the civil compromises to violators, the City Attorneys would be forced to file criminal charges.
The problem with CPUC deciding not to do civil compromises however is that the Airport Courthouse City Attorneys either set the cases for office hearings or straight rejects them. They have not been filing our cases. In the case of a straight rejection, we may end up paying the impound fees. Sergeant Hernandez aimed to avoid this with his email.
The California Greater Livery Association and possibly media sources received the erroneous message that all enforcement against TNC’s was suspended. I spoke with a GCLA board member to assure him that the enforcement against TNC’s continues. LAWA PR was also informed and any media inquiries should be fielded by PIO Sergeant Nettles.
I plan to meet with Julie San Juan, supervising City Attorney for the Airport Courthouse this week to convey the importance of having our cases filed (we have discussed this in the past) if CPUC decides to stop doing civil compromises, which I don’t foresee as occurring.
I met with Shirlene Sue from the LAWA Permits Section earlier this afternoon during the monthly Ground Transportation meeting and assured her that we have not stopped conducting enforcement despite CPUC’s posture.
As far as impounds, remember what I have mentioned to all of you in the past…education is primary (i.e. cite), impounds are secondary. Don’t interpret that message to mean that all enforcement is suspended.
I will keep you posted on our efforts to garner support at the prosecution stage. Feel free to call me if you have any questions.