San Francisco mayor and sharing economy advocate Ed Lee has found himself stuck in an awkward showdown between the regulators at San Francisco International Airport and rideshare companies like Lyft, Uber or Sidecar.
The SFO Airport Commission, along with the California Public Utilities Commission, which is laying out ground rules for rideshare services, has alleged that the transportation network companies are operating illegally when making drop-offs and pickups at the airport. Last summer, the airport started cracking down on rideshare drivers with citizens arrests and the TNCs distanced themselves, telling drivers they were on their own if they were ticketed for trespassing on airport property. (The San Mateo County Distract Attorney, however, declined to prosecute any of the citations.)
Now the airport commission and its director John Martin have proposed a permitting process that would regulate access to the airport. The commission sent out permit applications last month, but the CEOs of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar claim the new permit is too lopsided and only allows for drop-offs, but not for calling an Uber to get home after a flight. In a letter to the Mayor, the companies complained that Martin and the airpot commission won't meet with them to work on a compromise. Mayor Lee, for his part, is doing his bestg to avoid intruding on the airport's territory without pissing off the flagship sharing economy companies.
"Ridesharing is an innovative transportation alternative for many City residents and SFO customers and the mayor is supportive of SFO's proactive efforts to permit and regulate rideshare companies to provide access and ensure customer service and public safety," read a statement from Mayor Lee's office yesterday. "Mayor Lee defers transportation policy decisions about airport transportation issues to his highly respected Airport Director John Martin and the Airport Commission."
Although, the TNCs have agreed to some of the regulations, they also claim Martin and the airport commission are stonewalling them. Instead of agreeing to meet to discuss the new regulations, the commission simply responded with a letter detailing the citations they gave out to rideshare companies during a recent three-week period. According to the letter, 110 drivers were cited for lacking permits. Of those, 101 of them were from UberX, one had no driver's license at all, three had no proof of insurance and 77 percent of them had no identifying information on their vehicles.