Uber competitor 'Lyft' allowed to pickup from LAX starting Wednesday

Posted on 22 December 2015

In another blow to Los Angeles' taxi industry, Lyft on Wednesday will become the first ride-hailing service allowed to pick up passengers at LAX.

Just in time for the holiday traveling crush, Lyft's low-cost drivers can begin picking up travelers at 8 a.m. Wednesday, City Hall officials announced.   

The agreement is a coup for Lyft, which will be the only ride-share company picking up at LAX during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. The Silicon Valley company's main competitor, Uber, has not received the green light for its drivers to pick up at the airport. 

“We’re really excited that L.A. travelers will now be able to get a Lyft ride to and from LAX,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said. And, she added, the company is “excited to be the exclusive ride-share option” for travelers at the airport.

For more than two years, Uber and Lyft drivers have been allowed to drop off passengers at LAX, but only licensed livery drivers, shuttles and cabdrivers were allowed to pick up someone. Travelers could request a luxury Uber or Lyft car service, operated by a state-licensed livery driver, but the companies' low-cost services were banned.

The airport will collect $4 for each pickup and drop-off, a charge that will probably be passed on to passengers.  

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's staff announced the green light for Lyft on Tuesday. Garcetti had originally promised that services like Lyft and Uber would be operating at the airport by summer. 

Airport officials spent the first half of the summer wrangling with ride-share representatives over what rules their drivers should be required to follow.

Then the City Council intervened in July, spending a month debating whether Uber and Lyft drivers should undergo the same background checks as their taxi competitors. In the end, the council did not establish new rules. So the ride-share drivers will continue to undergo a background check that does not include a fingerprint scan.  

After the City Council and the airport approved the application process, Lyft and Uber spent months in back-and-forth negotiations with the airport, providing documents and data that clarified whether the companies could meet the terms of their contracts.

The low-cost versions of Lyft and Uber already operate at several major California airports, including San Francisco and John Wayne in Orange County. 

Article by: Laura Nelson, LA Times

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