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A stream of taxi protesters and statements from the top brass of the Greater California Livery Association and National Limousine Association, were not enough to sway LAX airport commissioners from passing their new Non-Exclusive Licensing Agreement (NELA) with TNCS that allows them to make pickups from the airport.
The decision makes LAX the largest airport in the U.S. to approve TNC pickups, which are also allowed in San Francisco Airport, San Diego, John Wayne, and Nashville International Airport, which was the first major airport to permit TNC pickups.
The hearing before the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners opened with COO of Los Angeles World Airports (a self-supporting LA City department that runs LAX, ONT, and VNY airports), Steve Martin, outlining details of the NELA agreement, which he said requires TNC drivers to wait at a designated “geo-fenced” area before being dispatched to the terminal. He also said there would be a cap on 40 TNC vehicles allowed in the waiting area, but there is language in the agreement allowing that number to change.
Many taxi drivers told the commissioners there is unequal regulation between cab drivers and TNC drivers, namely that taxi drivers are required to have drug tests and must buy a $4 trip ticket for each airport pickup. The NELA agreement would charge TNC drivers $4 for each trip to and from the airport. Taxis pay $4 for every pickup, and drop-offs are free. The TNC companies will be required to pay the airport either $25,000 per month, or the sum of their $4 fees, whichever is greater.
GCLA President Kevin Illingworth, along with NLA board member Ron Stein, and son Brandan Stein, and Music Express’ Perry Barin made statements against allowing TNC pickups. Illingworth added that Uber has a lack of concern for public safety and a history of disregarding standard insurance and licensing regulations.
Before the meeting, taxi and limo supporters discussed the recent recommendation from a California judge that Uber be fined $7.3 million and suspended from operating in California. Martin noted the airport is complying with the CPUC’s current regulation of TNCs, and said drivers cannot have convictions for reckless driving, hit and run, driving under the influence, sexual crimes or terrorism.
GCLA President Kevin Illingworth released a statement following the Airport Commision’s ruling:
“Thursday was another test of David vs Goliath. The GCLA will continue to fight TNCs and will help state officials pass laws to protect the public safety. The decision of the L.A. Board of Airport Commissioners was disappointing and ill-advised. But it came as no surprise. The Mayor of Los Angeles, who appoints all members of the Board of Airport Commissioners, was an early supporter of TNCs and promised in his State of the City address earlier this year to allow TNCs to pick up passengers at LAX. A record 66 speakers appeared before the Board on Thursday and 90% of them were opposed to allowing pickups of passengers by TNCs at LAX. Sadly, their testimonies fell on deaf ears. It isn’t fair – and certainly not a level playing field when taxis and TCP operators have to jump through hoops, pay yearly fees and trip charges, and have their cars inspected while TNC’s virtually bypass the entire process.
It was my pleasure to represent our industry and I couldn’t have done it without the help of Perry Barin, Gary Dye, Ron Stein and Mack McCulley.
This battle is not over. We will continue to fight, and to educate the public and public officials on the dangers posed by TNCs.”
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