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Home / Business / Column: Sorry, L.A., LAX's Uber, Lyft and taxikos are our own creation. Are we too good for the bus?

Column: Sorry, L.A., LAX's Uber, Lyft and taxikos are our own creation. Are we too good for the bus?



In a well-run city, getting to and from one of the world's busiest airports would not be a nightmare.

The railway line to the airport would extend to – oh, I don't know, the airport?

But in Los Angeles, after three decades of improvement planning, we're not there yet.

If in doubt, you can only consider the transition in the last week from pickup at taxis and ride-hailing companies to an external pickup location. It was good time to plan and execute the move well, but instead we got chaos. Traffic jams, confused travelers and unsatisfactory excuses from LAX officials.

  Denise Lyra and her daughter arrive at LAX

After arriving from Brazil, Denise Lyra and her daughter Gabriela left their cell phones near the Lyft queue at. the new "LAXit" pickup for taxis and vehicles at Los Angeles International Airport on November 5.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Help is on the way, we know. A little relief, no matter when the LAXit pickup area expands early Wednesday. Even then, don't expect it to be a LAXitive for stopped traffic. Drivers report that it takes them longer to travel the six blocks from the holding pen to the pickup location than it takes for jets to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

And guess what?

High rollers do not feel the pain. If you can afford to call for a limousine at Los Angeles International Airport, you can still walk out of your terminal as a celebrity, get on the street and be whipped away in comfort. No shuttle or snail for the pickup coral. No wasted time. No sweat.

As if we needed to make the gap even bigger in L.A., where the really elite didn't even bother to compete with the high polloi. At LAX it's not just limousines. A-listers can breeze to the south side of the Private Suite terminal, which I visited two years ago to make sure it existed. The membership fee is $ 4,500, and an additional $ 2,700 each time you use the service, which includes a concierge doctor on duty if you splash a nail that opens your champagne while waiting for your flight.

  Passengers Arrive Much "LAXit"

Passengers exit the shuttle bus at the "LAXit" area for Uber, Lyft and taxi rides at Los Angeles International Airport on November 5.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

But hey, aren't any of us others getting a little spoiled too?

We have one or maybe two ride apps on our phones.

We're too lazy to walk, so now we're cycling on scooters.

We're too impatient to get stuck in traffic, so now we're emptying through quiet neighborhoods with navigation apps and paying to drive fast lanes.

We are too busy to cook, so now we tap on an app to have a burrito delivered to our door.

And we consider ourselves too good for shuttles or, God forbid, the FlyAway bus. [1 9659021] "LAXit" lot at Los Angeles International Airport ” width=”840″ height=”560″/>

Passengers are waiting for pickup at the "LAXit" area for Uber, Lyft and taxi vehicles at Los Angeles International Airport on November 5.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

So now we have a billion cars a day on our way in and out of LAX, and we ticked off a problem we were creating.

And in the process, we support Uber and Lyft, whose drivers are approaching the minimum wage while beating their own vehicles and putting more pressure on the taxi drivers, who used to get a decent paycheck before we all started telling each other how much we love the ride . apps.

"You have Uber and Lyft in a year-long price war, where they use investor dollars to artificially suppress prices," said William Rouse, CEO of Yellow Cab in Los Angeles. [19659002] The cab companies have a particular disadvantage and compete not only for lower prices, but for much larger fleets. Not that the cottage industry was ever the business-driven enterprise, with a history of run-down vehicles and meter-rigging scandals. And some cabin companies were too slow to respond to the technological innovations that gave rise to the competition.

A few years ago, I became an Uber driver for a few weeks to experience it firsthand. Getting approved was a snap. I fetched 12 prices, earned $ 12.22 an hour after deducting gas costs, and didn't get a single tip. Then one of Uber's marketing tricks was that you didn't have to give your driver anything extra.

  Travelers near the "LAXit" area

Travelers travel near the "LAXit" area for Uber, Lift and Taxi at Los Angeles International Airport November 05.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In some ways, Uber and Lyft were brilliant, and for some drivers, earned a few dollars while setting their own plans and serving as their own bosses was attractive. My son was between jobs when he was driving for Uber and Lyft, which just kept him afloat. But he said that going to LAX was horrible, partly because of traffic and partly because legitimate passengers accused him of delays.

No one likes delays, including me. But when did we all become so special that we couldn't handle even the slightest disadvantage?

When it came to the scene at LAX, Rouse said he attended meetings where the pickup transition was planned, and he thought at the time that airport employees were on top of things. But now he has a couple of theories about what may have gone wrong.

Either traffic engineers had inaccurate numbers on how many pickups came to the airport each day, or the numbers were correct, but planners miscalculated how long it would take these cars to get to the new external pickup points, Rouse said.

"If they started with the wrong number of trips, it could lead to someone concluding that Uber and Lyft underreported trips," said Rouse, "who would believe they also paid for their airport fees they owe for each pickup and drop off. "

In September, I was cycling from Union Station to LAX with yellow taxi driver Oganes Papazyan, and I called him on Tuesday to ask about the airport madness last week. He said he was trying to avoid LAX because it had taken him more than an hour to walk just a few blocks and pick up passengers.

"It's too much stress for many people. Not only us, but the biggest problems are for families with children and luggage, ”Papazyan said. "They complain more than we are."

Papazyan said he would like to see a return to the days before Uber and Lyft had full delivery and pickup privileges at LAX, but it probably won't happen.

And it is likely that we will be stuck with some degree of chaos until 2023, when an elevated relocation is scheduled to begin tracking passengers from terminals to car rental, a ground transportation hub and a subway station. a ride-sharing van out of LAX, take a bus, drive your own car or fly out of Burbank, Ontario or Long Beach, even if it means having to take a connecting flight.

If you needed a reminder, the calendar says it's November, and you know what that means. So does Papazyan.

"With the holidays coming – Thanksgiving and Christmas – for one or two miles around LAX, believe what I'm telling you. It's going to get messy."

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