For shuttle services, taxis and limousines, the new rules banning cars inside Los Angeles International Airport in the wake of the catastrophic events of Sept. 11 have proven to be a mixed blessing.
Though all businesses transporting passengers to and from the airport saw their revenues nosedive in the first few days after the attacks as the nation's air travel system was frozen, some shuttle and limo services began to recover last week.
"We're now about 10 percent busier than we were before (the attacks)," said George Badden, a dispatcher with Checker Shuttle Service, a small L.A.-area shuttle serving LAX. "Our phones are ringing off the hook with people wanting to know if our shuttle service will be easier for them than following the new rules and going out to those remote lots."
Others, however, were still reeling as cancellations mounted and the overall pool of travelers had shrunk.
"Since the attacks, we've lost anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of our business," said Roman Lukach, president of Concord Limo Inc. which gets three-fourths of its revenues from service to and from LAX. "It's actually gotten worse over the last couple days," he said late last week.
He added that business was also down about 20 percent or so at Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport, although that's only a tiny part of his overall revenue.
Lukach said he believed his service could hold out only two or three more weeks at these levels before having to make cutbacks.
Continued slowdowns could keep companies and drivers from making payments on their insurance premiums, further jeopardizing service.Falloff outweighs access
Super Shuttle International, by far the largest shuttle operator at LAX, reported its revenues had fallen about 25 percent.
"We're looking for shuttle traffic to decrease even further in coming weeks," said Richard Powers, general manager for Super Shuttle Los Angeles. "The falloff in the total number of passengers is far outweighing any benefits we might see from being allowed closer access to the airport."
But over at Super Shuttle's largest competitor, Prime Time Shuttle, passenger counts have ticked up in recent days, after a sharp plunge of 40 percent from pre-attack levels.
"We're managing to hold our own," said Kent Taylor, director of sales and marketing for Prime Time. "There's no question that people are choosing now to leave their cars at home and take our shuttle service."
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