Los Angeles

LAX Becomes Largest US Airport to Allow Ridesharing Services to Pickup Passengers

Uber and other ride-sharing services are expected to begin making pick-ups at LAX by late August.

Los Angeles International Airport became the largest airport in the nation to allow ride-sharing services including Lyft and Uber to both pick-up and drop-off passengers at the airport after a city commission signed off on an agreement Thursday.

The Los Angeles Airport Commission unanimously approved the non-exclusive license agreement for three years, despite objections by dozens of speakers, many of whom work for taxi companies, which must follow stricter regulations than ride-hailing companies.

"If you allow these people to come in with this scheme system that they have set up right now, who is liable?" DJMcCully of Wilshire Limosine said. "You? Not me. But Maybe the taxpayers."

An attorney who said she represents taxi drivers contended the plan requires an environmental impact review, with opponents saying there are not enough safeguards around ride-hailing companies.

Uber currently requires its drivers to undergo a background check, but not to be fingerprinted, which is a source of concern for some opponents, especially women who use the service alone.

"I'm concerned about them getting into one of these taxis and something unethical or violent happens," Cherly Bragg of the National Organization for Women said. "We've heard so many stories."

Representatives of major business chambers, including the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of the plan, saying it will improve transportation in the city.

"The demand is here, the rides are here, the customers want them," Ruben Gonzales of the LA Area Chamber of Commerce said. "They're adding to the economy, they're creating jobs, they're helping with traffic, they're helping with air quality. These are all a reality."

The change was also supported by more than 20,000 Los Angeles residents, who signed a petition urging LAX to allow ride-sharing services to both pick-up and drop-off passengers at the airport in order to cut transportation costs.

"I think it's a good thing if it makes it more affordable for those who can't afford a cab," LAX passenger Connie Anderson said.

Before voting, commissioners said they supported the agreement, but they wanted to be able to closely monitor the performance of the ride-hailing companies. Under the agreement, permits could be revoked with 30 days notice if problems arise, they said.

Prior to the vote, ride-hailing companies, which are also referred to as transportation network companies, were allowed to drop people off at LAX, but only transportation companies with permits could legally make pick-ups.

To obtain a permit under the agreement, ride-hailing companies must have an active permit from the California Public Utilities Commission, sufficient level of insurance coverage, pay a $4-per-trip fee and a monthly licensing fee, and follow other requirements.

The CPUC permit for Uber is currently in dispute, with a judge recommending Wednesday that the company's permit be temporarily suspended and the company pay a $7.3 million fine for failing to provide state regulators with required data reports.

Allowing the companies to pick up passengers at LAX would generate at least $300,000 in revenue for Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates LAX, according to a city report.

The decision follows Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's announcement in his State of City speech this year that he intended to allow ride-hailing companies to pick-up passengers at LAX, alongside taxi, limousine and door-to- door shuttle-van companies.

Ride sharing services are expected to begin picking up passengers at LAX by late August.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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