Midtown Raleigh News

July 14, 2014

RDU says Uber and Lyft drivers breaking airport taxi rules

Drivers for the much-hyped ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have run afoul of the rules at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Neither Uber nor Lyft has applied for business permits that RDU requires for taxi services.

Drivers for the ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have run afoul of the rules at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The services, which connect passengers with private drivers, are barred from business at RDU because they have not applied for commercial vehicle permits there, according to Mindy Hamlin, spokeswoman for the airport authority.

Both Uber and Lyft operate nationally and launched here during the spring. Uber promises fares that are 30 percent cheaper than a traditional taxi and has hundreds of “driver partners” in the local market.

Their drivers have been appearing at RDU for several months, and RDU police have issued warnings to some, according to Hamlin.

“The goal of the permits is to ensure the companies have the adequate insurance needed to safeguard our passengers,” Hamlin said, adding that the authority also requires safe vehicles and commercial qualifications.

It’s not clear yet whether individual drivers or the services themselves would need permits, or whether the services would even qualify for permits, Hamlin said.

Uber representatives say the company interviews all its drivers in person and, in North Carolina, requires insurance coverage for up to $1.5 million. Lyft requires a commercial liability policy with coverage of more than $1 million.

It may be difficult for RDU police to spot drivers with the service, as their business is phone-based, and cars often are unmarked, Hamlin said. However, Lyft cars do wear giant pink mustaches.

Taxi permits at RDU cost $100 each, while the fine for operating without one is $50 per citation.

Uber will pay the fines and legal costs for any of its “driver partners” cited at the airport, a spokesman wrote in an email.

The company also “will work with airport authorities to find the best permitting process,” Taylor Bennett wrote.

A spokeswoman for Lyft didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The city of Raleigh apparently sees the services differently from the airport authority. A police spokesman said neither Uber nor Lyft must abide by the city’s taxi rules.

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