Crime & Justice

Discrimination by taxis at LAX down, report says

File photo: A sign outside LAX.
File photo: A sign outside LAX.
Sharon McNary/KPCC

In 2016, Los Angeles World Airports, which operates L.A. International Airport, received 289 complaints from customers accusing taxi drivers of illegal behavior. The complaints, several of which accused drivers of race-related discrimination, were submitted in a report to the L.A. City Council on Tuesday. 

The report was requested by councilmembers early last year and put together by L.A. World Airports in an ongoing effort to reduce cases of discrimination at the airport.

In September 2015, former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville tried to secure a taxi ride at LAX and was refused service on the basis of his race, according to the report. It drew media attention and prompted an investigation, mandatory anti-discrimination and sensitivity training classes for more than 4,000 taxi drivers and amended discrimination laws, according to the report.

L.A. World Airports and L.A. Department of Transportation officers also conducted several "secret shopper" operations where African-American officers dressed in plain clothes and posed as passengers trying to get a ride.

Twenty percent of the officers were refused service in one "secret shopper" operation, according to the report. The numbers in three subsequent operations were 3 percent, 0 percent and 3 percent respectively. Councilman Bob Blumenfield, speaking with KPCC, credited that drop to tougher citations and suspensions for drivers.

"Ultimately we want to see that at zero," he told KPCC. "Anyone being refused at the airport based on discrimination — based on race — or anything, or handicap is unacceptable. Period."

Uber and Lyft drivers were also included in the rep0rt, Blumenfield said. A third report will be presented to the Council in six months.