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Need a ride from LAX? Don't call uberX -- at least, for now

January 24, 2014|By Eryn Brown
  • As airport police have cracked down on drivers, ride-sharing service uberX announced Friday that it would halt pickups at LAX Airport for the time being. In June, L.A. taxi drivers protested against ride-sharing companies outside City Hall.
As airport police have cracked down on drivers, ride-sharing service uberX… (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes )

Passengers arriving at LAX will no longer be able to use the peer-to-peer ride-sharing service uberX — which connects private car owners with people seeking a ride — to call a car to pick them up at the airport.

Writing in a blogpost, Uber spokesperson Andrew Noyes said that airport authorities' decision to issue citations to uberX drivers — who, unlike taxi drivers or limo services, do not have the permits required to pick up passengers — had led uberX to temporarily stop making pickups.

"This unwarranted action by authorities to punish drivers and riders cannot continue," he wrote, adding that Uber would work with airport officials to "resolve these issues quickly."

In response, Sgt. Karla Ortiz, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles Airport Police and Los Angeles World Airports, said ticketing uberX drivers who did not have proper authorization was a matter of public safety.

"There are permits required and laws that need to be followed when conducting any type of business on Los Angeles World Airports property," she said. "Airport Police will continue to enforce laws, rules and regulations regarding vehicular operation on airport property."

Ridesharing services such as uberX, Lyft and Sidecar, which employ the Web and mobile phone apps to link up car owners directly with customers who need rides, have come under fire from taxi operators in the Los Angeles area, who complained that the services were not licensed in the city.

But in September, the California Public Utilities Commission endorsed the ride-sharing operations, saying they could do business in the state as long as they applied for permits and complied with safety requirements such as driver background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance coverage.

To do business at airports, however, the companies still must work out additional permitting arrangements, the L.A. Airspace blog explained Friday, noting that taxi and limo services "jump through a lot of hoops to serve the airport. (And pay for that right.)"

L.A. Airspace also reported Friday that LAX officials had issued 200 citations and made two arrests of ride-sharing drivers since December, with most of the tickets going to uberX drivers.

In Uber's Friday blogpost, Noyes said the company was looking forward to working with LAX officials to come up with a workable solution for uberX. In the meantime, drivers working with Uber's UberBLACK and UberSUV services, which contract with car services that have the necessary permits required at LAX, can still pick up passengers at the airport.

All Uber drivers, including those working through uberX, can continue making dropoffs at LAX, the company said.

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eryn.brown@latimes.com

Follow Eryn Brown on Twitter.

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