Proponents of what’s called the sharing economy cheered in September when the state Public Utilities Commission created a new class of regulated transportation companies, clearing the way for the three firms and others like them to operate statewide. The decision rendered moot a cease-and-desist notice — which no one actually followed — sent by the Los Angeles taxicab administrator, who had warned the companies they were not licensed to operate in the city.
Most saw the decision as carte blanche for ride-share drivers to pick up customers anywhere in California. But that’s not true. The decision left intact regulations that allow airports to decide who may pick up on their property.
And according to LAX rules and regulations, casual ride-sharing drivers may not pick up passengers in the Central Terminal Area. Drivers breaking the guidelines can receive administrative citations from the Los Angeles World Airports Police. (Airport rules still permit anyone to drop off passengers.)
Taxi rules for LAX extract an additional $4 from cabbies per trip, half of which goes to the taxi program, half of which goes to the airport. Ride-sharing services don’t collect these fees, obviously, because why would they? Sumers spoke with William Rouse, general manager of Yellow Cab, who invoked “the rules”:
“What concerns me is that, again, our industry is being assessed millions of dollars in fees,” Rouse said. “We’re playing by the rules. These businesses have thumbed their noses at the rules since the day they were founded. They never met a rule that they didn’t intend to get around.”
Everybody should understand that Rouse’s industry wrote many of those rules, and those “fees” are designed to keep competition from entering the marketplace to the benefit the owners of cab companies (though generally not the actual cab drivers).
Eric Garcetti, the new mayor of Los Angeles, suggested through a spokesperson that changes may be on the way to allow ride-sharers “the right” to serve the airport legally. I can only assume the changes won’t result in a reduction of these “fees” Rouse groused about, but rather an agreement by ride-sharing services to collect and hand over some, thus driving up their prices, too.
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