Uber

L.A. City Council Wants to Make Life Worse For People Trying to Get from LA's Main Airport

Also: Uber shows-not-tells the people why legal transportation cartels suck.

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L.A. Weekly reports on the Los Angeles City Council refusing to take "let people get to and from the airport more easily" for an answer:

Many rejoiced a couple weeks ago when the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners approved a plan to allow UberX and Lyft to operate at LAX.

Well, not so fast….six L.A. City Council members moved to reconsider the decision, citing "significant questions" about background checks, discrimination and environmental concerns. The council is expected to debate the issue next week. If 10 of the 15 members agree to "assert jurisdiction" over the board's decision, then the council would have another three weeks to either approve the plan or veto it. If 10 members vote to reject it, it would go back to the airport commission for more work….

Several other airports have approved Uber and Lyft recently, including San Francisco, San Diego and John Wayne Airport in Orange County. .

Krekorian said he is not at odds with Garcetti, nor is he attacking Uber and Lyft. The goal, he said, is to spur discussion and compromise. In addition to the safety issues, Krekorian said he wanted to ensure that rideshare drivers will serve disabled passengers and drive to low-income communities.

As Krekorian should know, and while no system is perfect, Uber's method of community rating of drivers and gradual punishment of them for refusing too many pickup requests is a far more efficient means of disciplining discrimination than taxi drivers' ability (and practice, which I've experienced myself) of developing convenient "mechanical problems" the instant they decide they don't want to take you where you want to go. (In street hails or phone summons of course they can and will just fail to pick up people, or pickup in neighborhoods, they don't want to for discriminatory reasons. It's likely harder in airport lines, generally managed by airport employees in a first-come first-served line, to be that nakedly discriminatory at the sight of skin color you don't like, though I'm white so there might be methods I'm not familiar with.)

Also note Krekorian is willing to keep a useful service from people living in and visiting his city merely because he doesn't feel absolutely sure that some problem he imagines will never arise, without waiting to see if any actual problem actually arises and then trying to cope with it or end it. Because you know what? While he and his colleagues dither, not a single minority or disabled person is getting to use Uber from LAX.

In other crummy recent decisions from the LACC, they also don't want people in their parks and beaches to be able to easily obtain food and beverages from willing sellers.

Uber and its compatriots are alas in constant war against urban government.

And Zac Slayback of Praxis is perceptive on the new world that Uber and similar services represent, discussing why they've enabled  political backlash against transportation cartels that no amount of economic or political arguing on the part of free-market think tankers and publicists managed to do:

While taxi and transportation regulations often hurt the consumers they are paraded around to protect, most people don't see the costs of the regulations in traditional markets. Regulations may cost them a few dollars more, but taking the time to become well-read on the matter and reaching out to city hall likely costs them more. Meanwhile, the taxi companies have millions to gain from successful lobbying efforts.

It makes sense for most people not to pay a lot of attention to transportation regulations. Even with hours of convincing and remonstration, they can only imagine a better option than the taxi cartels. The cartels, on the other hand, have a very concrete alternative for which they lobby…

[But] Startups like Uber present people with real alternatives. They don't present people with white papers showing how economically inefficient protectionism is. They don't try to show how the money is flowing from taxi companies to corrupt politicians….

Instead, they change people's experiences.

New users of services like Uber and Airbnb almost always are shocked by how easy they are to use. For Uber, you just press a button and a car shows up. You tell the driver where you are going and get out. No money ever has to change hands, you don't have to worry about getting lost thanks to a GPS built into the app, and you aren't berated to bring cash rather than a credit card.

Now consumers have a real alternative against which they can compare the status quo.

Yes, free markets do tend to benefit consumers in wonderful and exciting ways. That's often the very reason that government functionaries, who depend for their aggrandizement and funding on interests who want to enrich and benefit themselves and not consumers, don't like them.