Taxi Cab Controversy In LA Heating Up - Los Angeles Local News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

Taxi Cab Controversy In LA Heating Up

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It's a battle that has been brewing for many months now and it's about to come to a head. On the one side of the battlefield are the traditional taxi cab companies that operate in LA. On the other side, those ride-sharing operations that are becoming increasingly successful at wooing away customers from regular cabbies. And now the city council is about to insinuate itself right into the middle of what has become a very tension-filled fight over which companies have a legitimate right to operate within the city limits and who gets to control them.

While the issues underlying the controversy are a bit complicated, the emotions are very clear. The traditional cab companies simply don't like the new kids on the block. Those" ragtag" ride-sharing operations with their incredibly convenient mobile  phone apps are now considered a huge threat to the livelihoods of regular cabbies. Ride-share drivers are typically private citizens who use their own vehicles.

The lynchpin seems to be over regulation. The nine traditional taxi cab companies are regulated by the city's Taxi Commission. But the commission has no say over ride-share companies Uber, Sidecar and Lyft. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) says, technically, they aren't taxi services but rather transportation network companies and are therefore not subject to local regulation. Instead the state oversees them and imposes a number of requirements on how those companies operate, including criminal background checks, insurance and permits.

But LA taxi companies say that's not good enough. That the ride-share companies are not subject to some of the same restrictions and fees that they have to pay and that's not fair. City councilman Paul Koretz agrees. He claims, for instance, ride-sharing cars don't have to adhere to the same safety standards as regular taxis. He's going to ask the city council get the city attorney to appeal the PUC ruling. Meanwhile, residents seem to like having the ride-share companies as an option. Many say the fares are lower, the rides more comfortable and perhaps most importantly, the drivers are nicer.

If it's true that the ride-share companies are able to compete better because they are able to avoid paying fees or have fewer restrictions than traditional cab companies, there is something a little troubling about that. If they're providing the same service, why shouldn't they be subject to the same regulations? It's a fair question. On the other hand, if these companies are legitimately providing cheaper, more comfortable rides and better customer service, especially in poorer neighborhoods where some taxi cab companies won't go, then let the chips fall where they may. It's called competition. And when there's healthy competition, consumers usually are the real winners.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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