Los Angeles city leaders approve ride-hailing pickups at airport

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 25, 2015 7:35 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to let ride-hailing services such as uberX and Lyft pick up passengers at the city's international airport, which will become the largest U.S. air hub to allow the practice.

The 9-6 vote affirmed an action in June by members of the local airport commission, aides to council members said.

Some City Council members had expressed concerns about that decision and opened a review process. But council members who opposed the commission's decision lacked the necessary 10 votes to veto it.

The proposal to allow ride-hailing services to pick up at Los Angeles International Airport has drawn fierce opposition from taxi companies and drivers, who are faced with new competition from the mobile phone-based services and have lobbied against them in many parts of the country.

Taxi drivers say they are required to undergo fingerprinting for their background checks, while drivers with ride-hailing companies are not.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and some officials have described ride-hailing services, which already are allowed to drop off passengers at the airport, as a valuable tool.

As part of the plan, officials have required the creation of a so-called geofence that using GPS technology would prevent ride-hailing service drivers from parking near the airport to more easily receive pickup requests.

Ride-hailing services such as uberX and Lyft will need to demonstrate they can work within the geofence system before they start picking up passengers, said David Graham-Caso, a spokesman for Councilman Mike Bonin. That process could be completed within weeks.

"This agreement is a big win for passengers, by giving them more safe and convenient options to get home from the airport," Bonin, who represents the neighborhoods near the airport, said in a statement.

UberX is a Uber Technologies Inc service that uses everyday drivers using their own vehicles. The council vote does not apply to UberBLACK and UberSUV, which use commercially licensed drivers who can already pick up from LAX.

The council also voted to ask the City Attorney's Office to report on the possibility of requiring drivers with ride-hailing services to undergo fingerprinting.

"My greatest concern (with ride-hailing services) is the lack of a fingerprint background check," said Councilman Paul Koretz, who voted against the pickups at LAX.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)