In the face of great resistance, the Washington Airports Authority announced a plan in May to “better incorporate” Uber and Lyft into ground transportation options at Washington’s Dulles and Reagan National airports.
The LAX Board of Commissioners voted for a change Thursday, which will make LAX the largest U.S. airport to give such services full access by allowing them to pick up passengers. The plan must be approved by the airport and city attorney, according to the Associated Press, but could begin by summer’s end. Some details of the new proposed agreements with the companies must also be worked out, according to representatives for Uber and Lyft.
“Customers want them,” Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce senior vice president Ruben Gonzalez said at the airport commission meeting, according to the Los Angeles Times. “These are all realities.” Outside, more than a dozen taxi drivers rallied, wearing yellow T-shirts showing a man’s eyes reflected in a rearview mirror and the words: “Uber Driver or Convicted Felon? BOTH.”
Indeed, the move is a major blow to taxi drivers, who have long argued they are at a disadvantage because their fares are set by cities, and those prices are usually higher than ride-hailing services’ discount options such as UberX. For instance, a typical taxi trip from LAX to downtown Los Angeles runs more than $50 before tip, according to the Los Angeles Times. Whereas, the same trip via a ride service costs closer to $30 during non-peak periods.
“There was no effort whatsoever to level the playing field in spite of what all the policymakers were saying,” William Rouse, general manager of Long Beach Yellow Cab Cooperative Inc., told KABC-TV Thursday.
Thursday’s vote was a victory for Uber, which has recently faced other challenges in its home state of California. Last month, the California Labor Commission ruled that an Uber driver was an employee, and not an independent contractor, of the company. Uber is appealing that decision. On Wednesday, an administrative law judge in the state fined an Uber subsidiary $7.3 million for failure to provide data to the state’s public utilities commission. Uber has said it will appeal that too.
Under LAX’s new scheme, Uber and Lyft drivers would drop off and pick up passengers at a designed area on the airport’s upper departure level, paying the airport $4 each way, according to the Los Angeles Times. The companies would also have to pay the airport at least $25,000 per month to be able to participate in the new proposed licensing agreement with LAX.
“Ridesharing is becoming popular in Los Angeles, and we want to give LAX passengers the same transportation options that they have throughout our city,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, according to CNBC.
Nashville International Airport was the first major U.S. airport to allow pickups by ride-hailing services. It is one of more than a dozen U.S. airports to do so, according to the Los Angeles Times. And as many as 20 airports nationwide are rethinking their regulations, The Post’s Luz Lazo reported.
“We are in a period of transition,” Ray Mundy, executive director of the Airport Ground Transportation Association, told The Post last month. Mundy projects that ride-hailing services will be widely available at airports within two years. “It is going to be airport by airport making decisions,” he said.