Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps have been banned from Newark Airport, following a decision this week by the city of Newark. The ban has apparently been in the works since early February, and draws on a city ordinance that requires commercial drivers to obtain a license in order to operate at city airports or train stations.
The decision came as a pleasant surprise to New Jersey taxi drivers on Monday, since Newark's public safety director Anthony Ambrose had stated as recently as this past Friday that the proposed ban had been scrapped, and that "we will not single out Uber for violations only." Taxi drivers in New Jersey, like their NYC counterparts, have long argued that Uber is unfairly encroaching on their business.
As of this Tuesday, Uber or Lyft drivers caught at the airport will be subject to towing and ticketing. But while the ban is powerful in its language, there's a chance it might sputter in practice. NJ Advance reports that while Newark police don't patrol the airport, the city does perform license checks on taxis and limos there (300 tickets have been issued to noncompliant vehicles this year to date). However, both the Port Authority and NJ Transit have stated that they will not seek to penalize un-licensed rideshare drivers at either Newark Airport or Newark Penn Station, which is also impacted by the city's ban. According to NJ Transit, "The New Jersey Transit Police Department will not ticket rideshare drivers when picking up customers at NJ Transit hubs, including Newark Penn Station."
The Port Authority issued its own statement on Friday, saying that Port Authority police "will not take steps to prevent access" to rideshare services.
Uber stated on Tuesday that it plans to reimburse drivers for any tickets issued. Spokesman Matt Wing stated additionally that, "We do not know why City of Newark has flip flopped and decided to once again target Uber despite the fact that more than two thousand of the city's residents depend on the app to make ends meet."
The City of Newark did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how the ban will be enforced without NJ Transit or Port Authority assistance.
UPDATE: Newark Director of Public Safety Anthony Ambrose stated on Wednesday that, "We always and will continue to enforce the laws and city ordinances that govern the operation of taxis and limos in the city including Newark airport and the Penn Station area."
In an accompanying statement, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said, "We want to see a level playing field in which uniform regulations apply to Uber as well as taxis."