Over 200 certified taxi drivers picketed in Los Angeles International Airport’s pickup area Monday over the right to pick passengers up curbside in the “horseshoe” versus the recently instituted LAXit parking lot, shared with rideshare services.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the demonstrating drivers of the city’s various licensed taxi providers rely on clients coming and going from the airport for over fifty percent of their earnings (because airport fares are much more stable and lucrative than hotel clients). The Times also reported that taxi ridership plummeted seventy-seven percent between 2013 and 2018. The cheaper, less regulated options of Uber and Lyft, many taxi operators say, are to blame for the decline, and Yellow Cab’s President Martin Manukyan told the Times’ Laura J. Nelson that the private town car service Uber Black is still able to pick up at the LAX terminal curb. LA’s taxi services want the right to pick passengers up in the bus lanes used by the LAXit shuttles.
The airport’s parent company, Los Angeles World Airports, says due to ongoing construction of the “people-mover” project, the idea of sharing the bus lanes is unworkable. We look at how the LAXit plan has affected taxi drivers and their clients at the airport, and discuss whether these licensed drivers might be able to get some kind of carve out not available to rideshare drivers.
Los Angeles World Airports offered the following statement:
For almost one year prior to the opening of LAX-it, Los Angeles World Airports engaged airport stakeholders regarding the changes that would be required to maintain operations during a time of significant construction at LAX, with providing parity among providers and the best possible guest experience as our overarching goals. LAX simply does not have the curb space to accommodate taxis or ride app vehicles within the Central Terminal Area due to the $14 billion modernization program, which includes construction of an Automated People Mover that will ultimately transform how people access the world’s number one origin and destination airport. LAWA hosted more than 20 meetings with taxi and ride app leadership to ensure that their feedback and ideas were incorporated into the design of LAX-it, leading to – among other things – taxis receiving their prime first curb location at LAX-it.
The LAX-it system has been working smoothly and efficiently for more than nine weeks. LAWA executive leadership has held a number of recent meetings with taxi companies and drivers since the opening of LAX-it and has implemented some of their suggestions as part of constant improvement of the operation. We will continue to meet with all stakeholders, including taxi companies and drivers, in an effort to provide the best possible options to arriving passengers during construction of the Automated People Mover train and terminal modernization.
Kamo Sokhrabiyants, president of Independent Cab Company, a Los Angeles-based taxi service