Uber dispute between Newark, Port Authority continues

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The agency that operates Newark Liberty Airport isn't backing down in its dispute over the city of Newark's agreement to collect $10 million over 10 years from Uber to operate at the airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contends that laws in the two states give it the sole right to enter into agreements that affect the airport's operation.

The agency sent letters this week to city attorneys for Newark and Elizabeth. The airport sits within both cities' boundaries, and the Port Authority leases the land.

Last month Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced a deal with Uber that initially required the company to pay $1 million per year for 10 years for the right to operate at the airport.

Last Wednesday he announced the company would pay the city $3 million up front as part of the 10-year, $10 million agreement. The deal also prohibits Uber drivers from waiting for riders in designated taxi areas and requires the company to provide $1.5 million in commercial liability insurance for drivers and to conduct driver background checks.

The Port Authority's letter, dated Tuesday, asks for assurances the city won't take enforcement actions against companies like Uber at the airport.

While the letter doesn't specifically mention Newark's monetary agreement with Uber, it states the city is prohibited by its lease with the Port Authority from entering into any "leases, permits, licenses, contracts or agreements" that affect the airport without the consent of the Port Authority.

Baraka's office didn't immediately comment on the letter Wednesday.

At last week's monthly Port Authority board meeting, agency Chairman John Degnan said he planned to meet with Baraka to discuss a solution.

Elizabeth's city council had considered a resolution recently that would ban Uber from picking up and dropping off fares at the airport's Terminal A, but the matter wasn't put to a vote.

Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage said Wednesday the city won't take any enforcement actions against Uber or other ride-hailing companies at the airport.

"The council may adopt the ordinance, but it is impossible to enforce based on what the Port Authority has written," he said.

Newark Liberty Airport handles more than 30 million passengers annually and is among the 20 busiest U.S. airports.