Are rideshare drivers being targeted at Pittsburgh International Airport?

PITTSBURGH — Rideshare drivers for Uber and Lyft told Channel 11 they feel they are being targeted for minor traffic violations at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Even though flights are down, an Uber spokesperson said drivers are being ticketed four times higher than usual and the airport has requested to terminate around 2,700 drivers.

Brian Cole is an Uber driver who said that he got his first citation after an airport worker told him where to go.

“As I arrived another person says you need to leave the lane you cut in line, the only reason I moved over is bc you told me to,” Cole stated.

Channel 11 first started looking into airport citations and banned uber drivers last month – when a driver called us and said she was banned for using the airport bathroom after she said these designated portable toilets had been knocked over.

At the time, the airport told us in a statement that they would work with the rideshare to find a solution.

Since that first story, we got calls and messages from other Uber drivers – saying they were also banned for minor citations – like parking a foot behind the purple line or having a business logo on their vehicle. They say what’s frustrating is the airport doesn’t give a citation in person or in the mail -- and they have no ability to fight it.

Uber’s corporate office told Channel 11 that Pittsburgh International Airport’s ticketing system is not something any other airport does in the country, calling it “incredibly restrictive.” Uber says between driver citations and rideshare fees, Pittsburgh International has made millions of dollars in the past few years.

Uber also stated that while nationwide flights have decreased, the percentage of citations has skyrocketed at more than four times previous years. “It does seem like the airport is using these tickets to generate more revenue for the airport, at the cost of drivers livelihood.”

Lyft confirmed to Channel 11 throughout the pandemic, while rides to the airport were down, citations continued at a steady rate, and in some months increased. They stated that drivers are “not being informed at the time of the violation and Lyft only receives the citations on a weekly basis.” Lyft also said that the company is “eager to continue collaborating with the Pittsburgh International Airport to help prevent driver infractions and create a fair and transparent system that supports driver and rider communities.”

A Pittsburgh International spokesperson told Channel 11 in the following statement that their citations were cut in half during 2020 as air travel decreased, and that they wrote 511 citations. In comparison, in 2020, Dulles Airport in Washington DC gave Uber drivers approximately 30 citations.

“Per the contract with the Airport Authority, which incorporates the Airport Authority’s Ground Transportation Regulations, there is a process in place for Uber to challenge citations on behalf of its drivers:

Uber does not provide airport officials with driver names.

Citations are issued to Uber with license plates noted.

Uber has never challenged or contested any citation on behalf of their drivers per the ground transportation rules (formal contesting).

“Fees for rideshare companies are used in the same manner as all user-generated fees; for the operation and maintenance of airport facilities. Improvements to our curbs, parking and ground transportation facilities are planned as part of the design for our new terminal. Our top priority, as always, is to provide safe and convenient airport access for all passengers.

—  Pittsburgh International Airport