June 23, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Los Angeles City Council may put brakes on Uber at LAX

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The City Council today will consider putting the brakes on a plan to allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to legally pick up passengers from LAX, with some members saying the proposal needs more scrutiny to address passenger safety, disability access and other issues.

The Airport Commission last month approved a non-exclusive agreement — backed by Mayor Eric Garcetti — to allow ride-hailing companies to apply for permits to make pickups alongside taxis, shuttle vans and other transportation services at Los Angeles International Airport, which would become the largest airport in the country to permit such operations.

But a motion authored by Councilman Paul Krekorian and backed by five council colleagues says “significant questions remain” as to “the propriety of mandating background checks, clean fleet requirements, non-discrimination and equality of access,” among other issues.

If at least 10 council members vote in favor of the motion, the agreement will undergo a review by the newly formed Transportation, Commerce and Technology Committee chaired by Councilman Bob Blumenfield, and eventually the full 15-member council.

Council members would have 20 calendar days to make recommendations and indicate whether they accept or reject the agreement.

Garcetti said he welcomes a council review of the issue. He also reiterated his support for the need to bring ride-hailing companies into LAX, saying that the ride services are “an important part of my plan to improve the passenger experience and build the world-class airport that Los Angeles deserves.”

Krekorian and City Councilman Paul Koretz, who seconded the motion, sent a joint letter to the Airport Commission prior to its vote saying they would not support an agreement that lacked certain safety regulations.

“Given the security and safety concerns unique to the airport and the surrounding area, it is our view that TNCs (transportation network companies) currently lack the necessary regulatory framework to do business at LAX,” the councilmen wrote in a May 13 letter to the board.

“We would therefore oppose any potential agreement between LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) and TNCs that does not incorporate a regulatory framework substantially similar” to one imposed on taxi companies, which includes provisions addressing disability access, insurance, environmental requirements for the ride-hailing vehicles and other issues, they wrote.

Koretz has expressed concerns that the agreement does not do enough to ensure the safety of passengers, questioning whether drivers’ backgrounds will be checked properly or if there will be enough insurance coverage.

His position received a boost this morning, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that at least four men who received citations from Los Angeles International Airport Police while driving for Uber have criminal convictions that would bar them from operating a taxi in Los Angeles.

The drivers were convicted of child exploitation, identity theft, manslaughter and driving under the influence, according to court records cited by The Times. Each offense would make them ineligible for a city of Los Angeles taxi permit.

Ride-hailing companies, which are also referred to as transportation network companies, are currently allowed to drop people off at LAX, but only transportation companies with permits can legally make pickups.

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

Garcetti announced in his State of the City speech in April that he intended to allow ride-hailing companies to pick up passengers at LAX, the same privilege granted to taxi, limousine and door-to-door shuttle-van companies.

The ride-hailing agreement approved by the Airport Commission is “part of my agenda to make getting around L.A. easier, faster and more affordable,” Garcetti said after the panel’s vote.

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