Updated Wednesday, Aug. 5 – 12:35 pm
The Los Angeles City Council temporarily put the brakes today on a plan to allow ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers from LAX so the city can further scrutinize passenger safety, disability access and other issues.
The council voted 11-2 to assert authority over an Airport Commission decision last month to allow ride-hailing companies at make pick-ups 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.
The move to halt the plan was spearheaded by Councilman Paul Krekorian and backed by five council colleagues who claimed “significant questions remain” as to “the propriety of mandating background checks, clean fleet requirements, non-discrimination and equality of access,” among other issues.
Council members Mike Bonin, whose district includes the airport, and David Ryu voted against the action.
The city’s Transportation, Commerce and Technology Committee will discuss the issue Aug. 18 before the matter returns to the full council.
Krekorian said the Airport Commission “wholly ignored” concerns he raised along with fellow Councilman Paul Koretz about whether ride-hailing companies are adequately regulated to ensure the safety of passengers. Krekorian and Koretz sent a joint letter to the commission last month 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.
“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, including provisions addressing disability access, insurance, environmental requirements 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 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.
Ride-hailing companies are 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 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.