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Taxi Drivers Refuse To Pick Up SFO Travelers In Ride-Service Protest

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Taxi-cab drivers refused to pick-up passengers at SFO Airport Monday night, in protest of ride-service companies like Uber and Lyft, leaving hundreds of travelers waiting on the curb for a ride.

Cab drivers idled in the lanes and clogged the roadways for well over an hour, beginning at 9 p.m., according to reports.  As frustrating as that may have been for potential customers; cabbies are frustrated with what they said are favorable rules that allow Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to legally operate at SFO and the fact that they don't have to pay the same $4 trip airport fees as they do.

Drivers with the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance had distributed fliers instructing them to circle the terminals, according to SFgate.

One cab driver told KPIX that the ride-service companies are their enemies and not only do they undercut the cab companies' prices, but that they also work without any commercial insurance.

Barry Korengold with SF's Taxi Workers Alliance said businesses like Lyft and Uber are backed by big money and that they don't have to register their vehicles commercially. In addition, he said their drivers don't need to be fingerprinted or are required to undergo background checks.

"It's a lot of unfair competition and it's going to put the taxis out of business," Korengold said. "We're not allowed to have this on-off insurance policy. We have to have 100 percent insurance. That's how taxi cabs are regulated."

Many of the cab drivers have said they're making one- third less in fares than they used to.

SFO Spokesman Doug Yakel said there are a lot of different forms of ground transportation to offer customers choices.

"Our goal as an airport is to create a level-playing field," said Yakel. He added that regulation, insurance and trip fees are meant to create that level-playing field even though the ride-share companies, also known as transportation network companies (TNCs) aren't beholden to the same regulation as taxi cab companies.

SFO recently worked out a deal with ride-shares as part of a 90-day pilot program. In that time, officials will evaluate whether there's enough roadway space and demand to support the businesses.

As for the work stoppage, Yakel said, "[taxi drivers] have got the right to express their opinion. It's difficult to really get people on your side when they're being inconvenienced."

Last weekend there was a Supershuttle work stoppage related to TNCs at three Bay Area airports.

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