Ridesharing has transformed the way Angelenos live, work and move – making urban transportation more convenient, efficient and affordable. A city challenged by traffic and long-term air-pollution concerns is increasingly more livable and sustainable.
The ridesharing revolution is sparking many to rethink and reimagine what urban transportation is and can be. Gone are the days of unreliable rides and cost-prohibitive fares. Moving around the city has never been easier. More competition and more choice have meant more possibilities for more riders and drivers than ever.
Despite the benefits that ridesharing has brought to Los Angeles, innovative companies like Uber and Lyft continue to be blocked from serving passengers at Los Angeles International Airport, the world’s sixth busiest airport.
San Francisco International Airport recently announced an agreement with ridesharing companies to permit UberX, Lyft and Sidecar to operate to and from the airport. SFO’s director, John Martin, said this innovative “roadmap” for ridesharing companies “gives customers at SFO more choice, without compromising our focus on safety and security.”
Why should Angelenos not enjoy the same choice at LAX?
Flying is no longer the most cumbersome part of the LAX experience. The real frustration starts once a passenger touches down at the airport and looks for a safe, reliable and affordable ride using their mobile device.
While airlines are embracing technology – think electronic boarding passes and self-check-in kiosks – Los Angeles World Airports is stuck firmly in the past, refusing to allow ridesharing companies to operate within LAX.
Adding to this inconvenience is the confusion caused when properly licensed and permitted drivers are harassed and cited at LAX, simply for utilizing a convenient and popular mobile technology. This serves no one – not riders, not drivers and not the city.
It does, however, serve entrenched taxi companies, which have a spotty public safety record. A recent news report found that L.A. taxi drivers have been cited more than 10,000 times for serious violations over the past five years.
Our standard shouldn’t be what serves one company or one industry, it should be what best serves riders. It should be what best serves drivers. And it should be what best serves the city and the millions of people who visit or call it home.
The status quo is not in the best interests of riders. Uber and Lyft have raised the bar for safety and service across the country, so it makes no sense to ban these popular and safe services at an international transportation hub.
A clear and fair policy from LAWA would embrace ridesharing and provide riders with additional choices and transportation options. It would create more certainty and economic opportunity for drivers, and it would reduce long taxi queues and ground congestion at LAX. These are all things Angelenos can get behind.
LAWA should stand on the side of innovation and join SFO in embracing the ridesharing revolution that has woven itself into cities up and down California. If not, LAX is aligning itself with special interests at the expense of riders, drivers and the world-class airport experience that this great city deserves.
Linda Moore is chief executive of TechNet, an organization of technology company executives based in Washington, D.C.