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SF taxi drivers sue over airport pickup rules

San Francisco cab drivers and companies are suing The City for what they say are discriminatory taxicab rules at the San Francisco International Airport.

The rules, which took effect on Feb. 1 despite an outcry from cab drivers and city supervisors, allows only cab drivers with specific types of medallions to pick up passengers at SFO.

Specifically, cab drivers who purchased a medallion from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for $250,000 have priority at the airport.

Cab drivers who have earned medallions can still pick up at the airport, but not with expedited access to the curb. Ramp taxis are allowed airport access if drivers meet specific requirements.

Drivers with corporate, Pre-K or 8000-series medallions are not allowed to pick up at the airport at all times.

In the lawsuit filed on Wednesday at San Francisco Superior Court by the San Francisco Taxicab Coalition, Alliance Cab, Taxi Town, and individual cab medallion holders Patrick O’Sullivan, Sai Lee and George Horbal, say they want the court to place an injunction of the airport rules.

The plaintiffs allege age discrimination because the new rules at the airport favor younger cab drivers. Cab drivers with Pre-K medallion tend to be older drivers.

Additionally, the lawsuit alleges constitutional violations of due process and equal protection under the law because of the way identical cans are being treated at the airport, and alleges the airport rules violate the California Environmental Act.

The Taxi Cab Coalition believes the SFMTA implemented the airport rules as a way to bring value back to the purchased medallions, as the transit agency faces a lawsuit with the San Francisco Credit Union who had helped drivers get loans in order to purchase the medallions.

Many of the loans defaulted during the same period of time that Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber and Lyft, began popping up in The City.

The SFMTA has made efforts to help the taxi industry by eliminating certain fees over the years, but cab drivers say they are still suffering in the world of Uber and Lyft.

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