LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Amid pressure from transportation network companies such as Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, as well as from outside media sources, Los Angeles-area legislators are considering a repeal of airport regulations that would allow vehicles without commercial licenses to pick up passengers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport. The National Limousine Association vehemently opposes any deregulation at LAX or any other airport, and believes this would set a dangerous precedent, placing passengers in harm’s way.
Gary Buffo, NLA President, addressed a recent op-ed article that ran in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, April 10, titled “How to simplify the LAX experience: Grant ride-share services access,” written by Neal Ungerleider. In the piece, Ungerleider urges Los Angeles legislators to allow ride-hailing services to operate at LAX, asking “What’s taking so long?” The article also mentions the efforts of Autumn R. Burke, the state assemblywoman for LAX and the surrounding area, who has called for permitting deregulation in a recent letter.
Buffo said of these efforts to move TNCs into LAX, “The National Limousine Association has worked diligently to ensure that regulations and standards are enforced universally in the ground transportation industry. As a life-long California resident and President of the NLA, I am well acquainted with the traffic congestion at LAX. I do not agree, however, that allowing ride-hailing services such as Lyft, Sidecar or Uber to operate with impunity is a solution to this problem.”
The NLA recently launched a campaign called Ride Responsibly as a direct response to incidents reported in the media about the dangers of TNC use, as well as a result of a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the NLA that reinforced that the vast majority of passengers do not want convenience at the cost of safety. The campaign is an unprecedented effort to bridge an industry-wide gap between the rights of passengers and the responsibilities of service providers.
“In spite of Mr. Ungerleider’s glaring case of denial, concern for our own safety and that of our fellow citizens is not trumped by the perceived convenience of digital hitchhiking.”
Current regulations at LAX allow ride-hailing services to drop off passengers at the airport, and vehicles with commercial licenses are allowed to pick up arriving passengers. Currently prohibited from passenger pick-ups are drivers without commercial licenses, commercial vehicles or the requisite insurance. Allowing these drivers to pick up arriving passengers would no doubt lead to increasing numbers of ride ‘solicitations’ and driver loitering in already congested locations, says Buffo.
“You wouldn’t hitchhike home from the airport,” Buffo said, “but this is, in effect, what you would be doing if these services are allowed to operate at LAX.”