By Brian Sumers, February 24, 2014
Police at Los Angeles International Airport have begun to enforce
little-known rules that make it more difficult for two of the most
popular ride-sharing services — UberBlack and UberSUV — to pick up
passengers at terminals.
Los Angeles World Airports police have
issued about a dozen citations to drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV in
the past two weeks, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Drivers are being cited for not producing to police detailed information
about their passengers required by airport rules and regulations.
The citations have not affected services, and both UberBlack and
UberSUV continue to make LAX pickups, according to a company spokesman.
services, which have revolutionized the livery industry with their
mobile phone-based dispatch systems, were thought to be in compliance
with airport guidelines. But some of the UberBlack and UberSUV drivers
apparently have been tripped up by a relatively minor bureaucratic
The problem is what’s called a “waybill” — information
carried by the driver that shows some key information about the
passenger and the driving assignment. According to Sgt. Karla Ortiz of
Los Angeles World Airports police, drivers must know and be able to
produce the name of the customer, the terminal pickup location, the
arrival time of the customer, the airline flight number, the date the
ride was arranged and the destination.
But the phone application isn’t set up to receive nearly that
much information. Drivers don’t learn the destination from the phone
app. And it doesn’t ask for the passenger’s flight number.
Noyes, a spokesman for Uber, said in an email that the company is
familiar with the waybill requirement and said that drivers, who are
essentially independent contractors, should compile passenger
“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,”
Airport officials say the waybill system ensures that only
drivers with a need to be at the airport are there waiting for pickups.
Ride-sharing drivers have far more freedom to operate elsewhere in the
Los Angeles region than they do at LAX, where they are heavily
“This is just part of the enforcement to always look
at the waybill,” Ortiz said. “This is the only way we can make sure that
people who are conducting business at the airport are doing it
Drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV have generally not run afoul of airport police.
Unlike drivers for other services, such as Lyft, UberX and
Sidecar, who are often driving their personal cars and are not
registered as commercial drivers with state regulators, drivers for
UberBlack and UberSUV usually have proper permits from the state to
allow them to make airport pickups. Drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV
also generally pay LAX a $4 fee per ride, a fee that nonprofessional
drivers dispatched by ride-sharing companies like Lyft do not pay.
Most of the recent enforcement action at LAX has focused on casual drivers for Lyft, UberX and Sidecar services.
At the time, Noyes said customers should instead take UberSUV and
UberBlack, which the company said were in compliance with airport rules
Alex Darbahani, president of KLS Transportation
Services in Beverly Hills, said his drivers, who are not part of any
ride-sharing applications, have been dealing with the waybill issue for
years. He said compliance is not that difficult, so long as drivers have
access to the data. His drivers record the pertinent information on a
yellow sheet of paper.
“If the cops pull you over and you don’t have a waybill, you’re
going to get cited,” Darbahani said. “You have to have in writing the
customer’s name what airline they are arriving on and what time they are
During a recent two-month crackdown against drivers for the three
services, officers gave out 200 citations. In January, as a result of
the crackdown, UberX — the most popular of those services, and part of
the same company as UberSUV and UberBlack — said it would no longer
facilitate LAX pickups.