Los Angeles officials have voted to allow some ride-hailing companies to service Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). L.A. is now the largest city to allow Uber and Lyft full airport access. Officials said that if the companies are quick to implement the airport’s rules, Uber and Lyft rides from the airport could be a reality as soon as September.
Earlier this week, a California judge ordered Uber to pay $7.3 million for not providing certain data to the state, and suggested a statewide operations suspension for the company.
Though the L.A. approval might be great news for Uber fans, Southern California’s licensed cab and limousine drivers are less than thrilled. They had been fighting to keep the ride-service giants away from LAX.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
But William Rouse, the general manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles and the president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Assn., said the commission’s action missed “a major opportunity to protect the public and level the playing field.” The airport’s limited entrance points give city regulators a unique opportunity to enforce strict background checks and insurance policies, which he said the commission failed to address.
More than a dozen airports in the U.S. and three in California allow low-cost services such as UberX to make pickups, including San Francisco International Airport and Orange County’s John Wayne.
Uber and Lyft will be required to obtain permits and comply with rules specific to the ride-hailing apps. As the Times reports:
The permits would require Uber and Lyft to pay $4 for each drop-off and $4 for each pickup. In both cases, the fee, collected by the airport agency and added to its general operating revenue, would probably be passed on to the passenger. The ride-hailing companies would be required to pay the airport at least $25,000 per month for the right to pick up at LAX.
Unlike taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers would drop off and pick up passengers only on the upper departure level, a requirement that the companies opposed. They would be required to wait in a holding area until receiving a request for a ride. No more than 40 ride-hail drivers would be allowed in the holding area at one time.
Still, many taxi drivers think the decision is unfair. “The playing field has been unfair from the beginning,” cabbie Greg Inks told the Times. “We have our fingerprints at City Hall. We have to pass a test. It’s hard to get a license.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.