News and notes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport

Officers at Hartsfield-Jackson continue to cite Uber drivers

Officers at Hartsfield-Jackson International have issued more than 300 citations to Uber and Lyft drivers trying to pick up passengers at the world’s busiest airport in recent months, according to airport officials.

Airport and city of Atlanta officials say pickups at Hartsfield-Jackson by ride-share drivers for “transportation network companies” like Uber and Lyft remain unauthorized and illegal, while the city continues to work on a plan to allow and regulate them.

Uber argues there is no rule prohibiting ride-share operations at Hartsfield-Jackson, and it continues to enable pickups.

The dispute has left travelers and ride-share drivers in the middle, with pick-ups happening amid spotty citations for some drivers.

According to the airport, the Atlanta Police Department’s Vehicles for Hire section issued 306 citations to Uber or Lyft drivers from March 13 of this year, when it began tracking the citations, through June 25.

Atlanta city council members voiced frustration on the issue at a meeting Monday. City officials are working on a proposal to legalize the operations and are talking with Uber, Lyft, taxi and limo representatives.

Council member C.T. Martin said Uber and Lyft are not abiding by the rules.

“I’d like to know how [Uber and Lyft] justify being so arrogant,” Martin said during a transportation committee briefing. “They’re all saying, ‘We don’t care what you want. We’re going to do what we want.’ That’s a concern.”

“It’s a waste of police resources, frankly,” committee chair Yolanda Adrean said.

Officers who cite drivers for operating without a commercial permit have in the past impounded cars, leaving customers stuck at the curb.

“Our position is that at this time, our operations are in compliance with all laws,” said Nick Juliano, Uber public affairs manager for the Southeast. “We look forward to reaching a specific agreement with members of the city council and the mayor.”

Lyft also says it has questions on whether there are legal restrictions on its operations.

The city and airport have been working for more than a year to develop new rules to legalize Uber and Lyft pickups.

Hartsfield-Jackson’s former general manager, Miguel Southwell, introduced a proposal in the spring with plans to legalize ride-share pickups by July 1. Ride-share firms immediately objected to a part of the plan requiring that all drivers undergo fingerprint-based background checks, saying their own screening is adequate and such checks would hurt recruiting.

Southwell has since been fired and city officials said they plan to rework the proposal.

The proposal now isn’t expected to be ready for another few weeks, and would be subject to review and approval by the Atlanta City Council.

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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.