Taxi drivers in Los Angeles will have to start using an Uber-style e-hailing app starting in August, per a decision yesterday by the Los Angeles Board of Taxicab Commissioners. The commission plans to work with existing private apps or develop its own app to allow passengers to hail a cab a la Uber/Lyft/Sidecar and provide certification so that drivers will have to meet certain standards (publicly-regulated taxis, unlike Ubers or Lyfts, are required to provide service to everyone, including the disabled, for instance). The board hasn't decided which app or apps to use yet, or if it will allow flexible pricing schemes, like Uber's infamous surge pricing, which sometimes results in insane fares and always results in complaints. Either way, the board could slap drivers with a $200 per day fine if they don't use the app, starting August 20, according to Reuters.
Traditional taxis have been struggling to retain ridership since the arrival of rideshare companies, which skirt insurance, safety, and other laws by claiming they are fundamentally different from cabs; because riders can hail and pay via app, they're also way more convenient than regular taxis, especially in LA, where it's difficult and not always legal to hail a cab on the street. Since e-hailing has shown up in LA, taxi rides in the city have fallen by 20 percent. Besides looking at Flywheel and Curb, the board is also considering developing its own app.
The news will come as a relief to those who enjoy the convenience of Uber, but aren't a fan of their shoddy business practices or sketchy background checks, which have resulted in at least one terrifying Uber ride from hell in Los Angeles.
· Los Angeles to require taxis to use Uber-style mobile apps [Reuters]
· Los Angeles Has a Plan to Combine the Best of Uber and Taxis [Curbed LA]