Photo courtesy Uber
Photo courtesy Uber

A half-dozen members of the Los Angeles City Council said Wednesday that they want to put the brakes on a plan to allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to legally pick up passengers from LAX, saying it needs further scrutiny to address passenger safety, disability access and other issues.

The Airport Commission earlier in July approved a non-exclusive agreement — backed by Mayor Eric Garcetti — to allow ride-hailing companies to apply for permits to do pick-ups alongside taxis, shuttle vans and other transportation services at Los Angeles International Airport.

LAX is the largest airport in the country poised to allow ride-hailing 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.

The City Council is expected to vote next week on Krekorian’s motion and if approved, the agreement would undergo a review by the 15-member council.

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.

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 pick-ups.

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.

“Ridesharing is becoming popular in Los Angeles and we want to give LAX passengers the same transportation options that they have throughout our city,” Garcetti said then. “We’ve already seen LAX passengers use transportation network company applications and services to leave the airport by taking shuttles to nearby businesses to get picked up there.”

— City News Service 

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