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L.A. About to Reverse Stand on Ride-Hailing Services at LAX

Photography of the facade of the Uber headquarters in San Francisco, Ca.

More than a year after LAX Airport Police started cracking down on ride-hailing services Lyft and Uber, the city is reconsidering the ban. Under current regulations, it is illegal for ride-hailing services to pick up passengers in the terminal area, hence the crack down. But, things are about to change if city officials have their way, especially if all California auto insurance requirements are met.

Seems city officials are now pushing for regulators to legalize the presence of Uber and Lyft and allow them to pick up passengers throughout the terminal areas of the airport. While the change could ease traveler experience at LAX, it could lead to added friction in the already existing growing war between ride-hailing services and the city’s 2,361 taxis.

In his recent State of the City speech, Mayor Eric Garcetti promised that travelers arriving into LAX would have the ability to hail a ride “by the summer.” A bold prediction, considering the fact that some politicians have expressed concerns about the plan, saying Uber and Lyft picking up passengers at the airport could decimate the cab industry’s last remaining revenue stronghold. But, Garcetti feels if consumers can get a better price, they should have the option to do so. Bottom line – people should have the ability to go wherever they choose as conveniently and as inexpensively as possible.

In addition, airport commissioner Jackie Goldberg made it clear that she would have difficulty voting for regulations that didn’t include requirements for better auto insurance coverage to protect riders as well as requiring a fingerprint-based background check of Uber and Lyft drivers. Should airport commissioners approve the new regulations, several members of the Los Angeles City Council could use their veto authority to overturn the decision,

Typically, a taxi trip from LAX to downtown Los Angeles will set you back more than $50, not including tip. However, the same ride with Uber or Lyft will run you closer to $30, except during high-demand periods when prices tend to be higher. The opinion of some is that the dynamic fare pricing puts cab drivers at an unfair disadvantage, due to taxi fares being set by city officials, thereby preventing any fluctuation.

At present, you can use your iPhone and a ride-hailing app, such as the Uber app, to summons a car. But, you’ll have to do it by taking a shuttle to a nearby parking garage from which you can hail your ride. Most days a swarm of cars idles along Century Boulevard, waiting for your call.  Travelers can hail a more expensive Uber or Lyft car, operated by a licensed livery driver, but the companies’ low-cost lines, such as UberX, are not allowed.

In a proposed preliminary agreement dated April 27, Los Angeles airport staff members suggested charging a $4 fee for each passenger dropped off or picked up using a ride-hailing service. By comparison, taxis already pay a $4 fee, which is assessed by airport officials and passed on to the rider each time they pick someone up. Drop-offs are free.

Amazingly, such a ride-hailing program is currently in operation at San Francisco International Airport, where UberX, Lyft and Sidecar drivers pay $3.85 for each drop-off and pickup. The airport even created a software program that records each time an Uber or Lyft driver enters airport property with the intention to make it available for use by other airports, including LAX, by the end of this year.

The general consensus among taxi drivers who service the airport is that they only want Uber and Lyft to play by the same rules they have to. While it may not be the perfect solution, it may reduce the friction between the two sides.

So, whether you’re shopping for hail-riding service rates or auto insurance rates, you always want the lowest price. Make sure you’re getting the cheapest auto insurance in California. Why not get a free auto insurance quote today?

Do you have an opinion on the issue of allowing Lyft and Uber to compete with the taxis at LAX? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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