The wave of cabs flooding streets around Los Angeles International Airport has receded, to the delight of nearby business owners who had noticed taxis hogging street parking in the area.
Now, they want to make sure their newly cleared streets remain that way.
As the Business Journal reported a few weeks ago, taxis for months had been clogging streets around the airport as passenger traffic there continues to rise and as restrictions on ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft, which cannot pick up passengers at the airport, have made LAX one of the few places in Los Angeles where cabs can still count on steady business.
But over the past two weeks, measures were taken to stem the taxi tide. The airport is now allowing cabs to queue on streets within airport property rather than in front of businesses.
But as the city prepares to allow ridesharing companies to pick up fares at LAX – and with no sign that tourism in the region is abating anytime soon – some want to make it clear that the work is not yet done.
Laurie Hughes, executive director of the Gateway to L.A. Business Improvement District, which represents property owners along Century Boulevard leading into LAX, said she appreciated the airport’s quick response but fears the current fix will only prove temporary.
“Almost immediately (after the article), we did see improvement,” she said. “But this is a short-term solution. We’re looking forward to a long-term solution.”
The city’s fleet of 2,360 taxis is divided into five groups, assigned letters A through E, with only one letter group allowed to enter the airport each day. Those cabs are permitted to park in a holding lot near the airport, where they wait to be dispatched to pick up passengers at the terminals.
In theory, that should stop an overflow of taxis from spilling out onto city streets. But a rebounding economy has pushed passenger traffic at the airport to record levels, resulting in many days when there are more passengers than available cabs.
To ease that backlog, the airport’s taxi dispatcher can summon additional taxis, ones that don’t carry that day’s assigned letter, for a brief time.
Data from Authorized Taxicab Supervision Inc., which handles dispatch services at LAX, shows that over the past year, the airport averaged more than 10 such call-ups a day. That has incentivized drivers to linger near the airport in the hopes of getting called in. As they wait, they often take up street parking spots in the area, to the frustration of business owners who complain their customers and vendors have nowhere to park.
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