Taxi drivers say rules unfair at San Francisco International Airport

Amy Hollyfield Image
ByAmy Hollyfield KGO logo
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Taxi drivers say rules unfair at SFO
San Francisco cab drivers staged a protest Monday night against ride-sharing services that are now allowed to work at SFO saying, the rules at the airport aren't fair and they're losing business.

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KGO) -- San Francisco cab drivers staged a messy protest Monday night against ride-sharing services that are now allowed to work at the airport. The taxi drivers say the rules aren't fair, their business is being hurt and passengers are paying a price too.

San Francisco International Airport is allowing Lyft and Uber to operate at the airport on a 90-day trial period and they are only two weeks in. Some airport employees who are observing it all say the two sides are already at war.

Taxi drivers at SFO broke the rules Monday night after they blocked traffic and created gridlock to protest what they call unfair rules at the airport.

"We're protesting the special treatment that's being given to private vehicles who use apps to pick up passengers," Barry Korengold said.

ABC7 News did some digging and found out that drivers for Uber and Lyft do have different rules than the taxi drivers.

Even some passengers question that tactic. "Yeah, I think they need to do something to make it fair for everyone, absolutely," Oakland resident Aarash Shoushtari said.

"I love Uber because it is so convenient, so you can just do it right on your phone and then they show up for you, so it's really nice for me," New Jersey resident Kaitlyn Stratton said.

And it's because of that appointment-based relationship that the airport treats Uber and Lyft like limousine companies, not taxis.

"Taxis have apps also, but we aren't allowed to use them here. We have to wait in line, we've been doing for decades following certain rules.

Airport officials say they don't allow taxis to use apps to connect with customers. Because there are so many taxi cabs, they want to keep it fair and instead make them use the walk up process. They can wait at the curb for passengers, while Uber cannot. Taxi cabs and Uber also pay different fees to the airport. Taxi cabs pay $2 for a short trip and $4 for a long trip. Uber pays $3.85 for all trips. Some Taxi cab drivers told ABC7 News their business has been cut in half by Uber and that small cab companies will soon be out of business if this continues.

"Things are changing, I sympathize with the taxi people at the same time, it is so much more convenient with Uber and I use it quite a lot, difficult, difficult situation," Los Altos resident Barry Zwarenstein said.

Taxi cab drivers told ABC7 News they are willing to protest again, which would be crippling next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but they say first they're going to try to get a meeting with the airport director.