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It's Official: Soon You Can Take Uber And Lyft Rides From LAX

Arrivals at LAX (Photo by ckramer via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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After A LOT of back and forth and delays, the L.A. City Council has finally made a decision: ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft will soon be able to pick passengers up from LAX.

This would make L.A. the largest airport in the country to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to fully operate legally, and it could start happening as early as the fall, City News Service reports. The council members took their final vote today, 9-6 in favor of the ride-sharing companies getting to apply for permits to pick up folks from the arrivals area at LAX, something they were previously banned from doing, the L.A. Times reports. While they were able to drop passengers off at the airport, picking them up was something that only transportation services—like taxis, shuttles and limos—with proper permits were allowed to do.

The ride-sharing companies would have to apply for the permits through the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and follow other requirements including paying a $4 per pickup fee, carrying insurance policies with specific coverage, and pay a monthly licensing fee. The permit process could take up to 30 days, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who's in favor of ride-sharing services operating at LAX, told City News Service, "People are baffled by the fact they can take a ride-share to the airport but can’t take one home from the airport." He added that this new policy will be a good thing for LAX passengers, who have "suffered too long with too few choices."

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In July, the Airport Commission voted unanimously to approve allowing ride-sharing services' drivers pick passengers up from the airport, but that was delayed earlier this month when council members voted to review the commission's plan. One of the main concerns was that drivers for the ride-sharing apps do not undergo the same background checks as taxi drivers.

Council member Mitch O’Farrell, who voted against the ride-sharing decision today, has voiced concerns about how the competition is unfair since taxi companies have much more stringent rules and background checks they have to follow in comparison to companies like Uber and Lyft. "I see no reason whatsoever why the rush," O’Farrell told the Times. "What we have on the table, in my view, is a series of inequalities, and a double standard. I can’t in good conscience support that.”

The City Council agreed to ask the PUC to include new polices that require fingerprinting from the ride-share company drivers in their background checks, something that taxi drivers already have to do. Limo and shuttle drivers, who don't have to do that, would also be included in these potential new requirements.

The next step is for the city and the companies to agree on guidelines and contracts, but it sounds like that's not too far away.

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