San Jose cabbies stage airport walkout

About 300 taxi drivers have stopped working at Mineta San Jose International Airport Monday and are calling for more regulations to ride-booking services like Uber and Lyft to create an equal playing field.

The drivers, who have walked off the job at the airport since 8 a.m. today, are calling for fair regulations for the tech companies, San Jose Airport Taxi Driver Association president Shakur Buni said.

The “disappointed” group is demanding that the City Council require fingerprints and background checks for all ride-booking service drivers, Buni said.

If the council doesn’t meet their requests, the taxi drivers plan on continuing the strike on Tuesday and halting service across the city, according to Buni.

The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to review recommendations by airport staff on regulating ride-booking services at the airport. The recommendations include random curbside inspections once a month to audit and verify fingerprints and background checks on 1 percent of drivers.

In June, the council passed a pilot program at the airport requiring the ride-booking service drivers to undergo criminal background checks, submit fingerprints and obtain a business license and permits.

However, a Nov. 2 memo to the council stated no one was participating in the pilot program, which started in September.

The ride-booking service drivers have to apply for a permit to operate at the airport and meet requirements from the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates such companies and currently doesn’t require fingerprint background checks at airports researched by city staff.

Buni advocated for all ride-booking service drivers to obtain fingerprint checks and claimed taxi companies are being charged more than the tech companies to provide rides at the airport.

New taxi drivers have to do fingerprint checks before they can be licensed to work at the airport, city officials said.

Customers at the airport should expect an up to 15-minute wait today for ground transportation services, airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.

An exception has been made for city taxi drivers who don’t have a permit at the airport to operate there today in response to the work stoppage, Barnes said.

There are also door-to-door shuttle companies, including SuperShuttle, available for passengers who need a ride from the airport, according to Barnes.