Taxi drivers, others demand a crackdown on Uber at airport - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Taxi drivers, others demand a crackdown on Uber at airport

The planes that flew over the taxi cab lot on Airline Drive on Tuesday were a welcome site to cab drivers. But even as dozens of cabs lined up to pick up fares, many voiced outrage over what they say is the lack of a crackdown by the airport and Jefferson Parish on Uber drivers.

"They think they can operate above law, and that's what scares me because they undercut our prices,” said Niran Gunasekara with Local 234 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The union represents hundreds of taxi drivers in the metro area.

"We are asking the parish to enforce the letter they sent to Uber saying it’s illegal to operate in the parish of Jefferson,” Gunasekara said.

Cabbie Fouad Hassan has been driving taxis in Jefferson Parish and New Orleans for close to a decade. He and others said Uber Black, which is the luxury vehicle service that uses professional drivers, has been picking up fares in an area at the airport where they are not supposed to operate.

"Uber Black, they're supposed to pick up in the garage of the Transportation Center, and they all been doing it - picking up downstairs at the passenger curb downstairs,” Hassan said.

In addition, that they said the lower cost uberX car service has been picking up fairs at the airport in violation of parish rules. Gunasekara showed what appeared to be an uberX receipt on his smartphone. He said he put the car service to the test on Aug. 14.

"Last week I took an uberX from the airport, and this ride cost me $12.89, and we the cabdrivers - our price is $18, so yes, they are clearly undercutting our prices,” he said.

On June 26, Uber’s website had an announcement which said it had launched service in Jefferson Parish. But three days later, Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee sent the company a letter ordering it to immediately cease and desist its activity because it had begun operating in the parish without the proper licenses, certificates and or authority.

Some cabbies, however, say the order has not been enforced.

"So anybody could actually come in, put a vehicle in and drive without no plate, nothing. So they don't got to go through what we go through,” Hassan said.

In response, Foshee told FOX 8 News that her office continues to actively investigate complaints about Uber, and at the next council meeting they will be in a position to articulate a plan of action for going forward.

Even some Uber Black drivers who have been permitted to pick up fares at the airport said uberX drivers are infringing on their territory.

"uberX is picking up at the airport, basically illegally taking away fares from Uber Black because of the cost,” said an Uber Black driver who did not want to be identified.

He said the uberX drivers offer lower fares, significantly affecting his business as a professional driver.

"I think that Uber needs to put a stop to it and basically cut it off,” he said.

Uber provided this statement: "Under the operating agreement, uberX drivers are allowed to drop off at Louis Armstrong Airport, but not pick up passengers. In fact, when passengers land at the airport, uberx is not an option available to them through the app.”

But cabdrivers and others said passengers and uberX drivers are finding a way around that rule.

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