Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

A Los Angeles City Council panel expressed its support Tuesday for a plan to allow ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers directly from LAX, but the issue still needs to go to a full council vote.

The five-member Trade, Commerce and Technology Committee voted 3-2, with Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Councilman Paul Krekorian dissenting, to affirm the Board of Airport Commission‘s decision last month to approve the language of an agreement that would give ride-hailing companies the ability to legally operate at Los Angeles International Airport.

The issue now goes before the full, 15-member City Council, with 10 votes needed to reject the Airport Commission’s action.

The council agreed earlier this month to re-examine the commission’s decision, which added ride-hailing companies to the list of transportation providers — such as taxis, shuttle vans and limousines — that now serve LAX.

Ride-hailing companies are allowed to drop people off at LAX, but only transportation companies with permits can legally make pickups.

Some council members, including Krekorian, pushed Tuesday for ride-hailing companies to be required to do fingerprinting checks on their drivers as part of their investigation into their backgrounds.

That issue will also go before the full council, which can prepare a report with recommendations to be sent back to the Airport Commission for its consideration.

The move to re-examine the plan was pushed by Krekorian, who said “significant questions remain” as to “the propriety of mandating background checks, clean fleet requirements, non-discrimination and equality of access,” among other issues.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who also wants stronger regulation of ride-hailing companies has said the Airport Commission-adopted agreement is a rare opportunity for city leaders to consider stronger regulations for such companies.

The city is otherwise powerless to improve upon regulations adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission, which has jurisdiction on the companies.

Ride-hailing drivers have said their customers are eager for pick-ups at LAX to begin. Such rides are among the top requests by passengers, who enjoy the low cost, payment methods and the ability to book trips on their phones, drivers say.

Because ride-hailing companies are not allowed to pick up passengers directly from the airport, many said passengers now skirt the restriction by arranging to be picked up at locations near LAX.

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.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric 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 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.

—City News Service

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