SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Uber driver Carlos went to pick up a passenger in Surrey Sunday. When he pulled over, he was met by city by-law enforcement officers, handed a piece of paper, and told he could be facing a $500 fine.
He was dropping someone who he had picked up at Vancouver International Airport off when he received a request through the Uber app to pick someone up at the Safeway on King George Highway.
A woman waved him over and asked if he was from Uber. When he confirmed that he was, uniformed city officials showed up.
“They told me, ‘We are from the City of Surrey and you are not allowed to be picking up people in the City of Surrey because you do not have a license,'” Carlos says.
He immediately posted the notice he received to a Facebook group for Lower Mainland drivers to warn them.
“They’re using an app for bad purposes because the app is for people to use ride-hailing, not to harass drivers. It’s like a trap.”
Hearing Uber drivers being called by City of Surrey staff. Once they show up bylaw officers hand a warning ticket, tell them next time they could be slapped with a $500 ticket. Being told drivers are basically being 'trapped', & they are reluctant to work in Surrey. @NEWS1130
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) January 27, 2020
Carlos says being tricked into a trip cost him time, money, and resulted in a poor rating.
He is reluctant to accept any request to pick up in Surrey again and says being asked to present his ID and licence to the city workers felt like “harassment.”
He says earning an extra $500 will require him to work a number of extra days, and is a burden he can’t afford to bear.
The city sent a letter to Uber Friday demanding the company cease operations in the city. Uber responded by saying they “respectfully decline.”
Adam, another driver, says news of potential fines is being widely shared between drivers.
“I don’t want to get baited like these other drivers have,” he says. “I don’t want to get myself in a situation where I receive one of these warnings. So, as it stands right now, until somebody can clear this up, I will not be picking up in Surrey.”
He says picking up in Surrey would be convenient for him, but until the apparent conflict between the city and the ride-hailing company is resolved, he’d rather play it safe.
“That’s time out of my day, that’s money out of my pocket. Just to avoid any issues. I’d rather drive half an hour outside of Surrey.”
NEWS 1130 has reached out to the City of Surrey for comment.