Two ridesharing/taxi alternative companies have successfully launched from California in just the last few years. Uber is well-known, already popular in Orange County and has built a greater presence compared to its less bombastic, smaller competitor, Lyft.
Their successes have caused plenty of controversy — especially where their lower cost service and technical superiority have encroached into traditional taxi, shuttle and limo operations. Airports have become battle grounds for the services, and yesterday San Francisco-based Lyft was apparently forced to email this to its Orange County drivers:
This week, after months of productive conversations, Lyft entered into a settlement agreement with the District Attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles. As part of this agreement, we’ve agreed to comply with SNA’s request to pause operations there – a compromise that allows us to continue working collaboratively on airport partnerships, like the one we reached with SFO.
We’re spreading the word to passengers that SNA pickups are blocked from the app, and drop-offs are also paused. Until everyone gets the memo, we need your help.Uber has been similarly challenged — both the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco have taken legal action.
Don’t Risk It
As another part of the settlement, Lyft is no longer legally allowed to cover the cost of airport citations. If you’re in driver mode on airport property, we’ll assume it was an accident and send you a friendly reminder. If it happens three times, we’ll need to deactivate your driver account.
We know airport rides are important to your bottom line, and to Orange County passengers who need a reliable ride. Let airport administrators know that you want Lyft rides reinstated in your city — we’ll be in touch with updates, and look forward to giving you the green light.
We understand that John Wayne Airport is technically in the 2nd Supervisorial District. Termed-out Supervisor John Moorlach and incoming Supervisor Michelle Steel need to be involved with this — a minimum, it’s Restraint of Trade that any real Conservative should abhor. John Wayne’s Airport Director Alan Murphy is known to be a sensible and competent administrator, and we’d be surprised if he got his arm twisted (or worse) by the large taxi lobby and has special privileges (like parking) already at SNA. If any taxi union thugs we’re involved, I guess we wouldn’t be surprised. Murphy reports to the County Executive Office which reports to the Board of Supervisors.
The bottom line here is that a legitimate business that has recruited dozens of free agent drivers in the OC, is being hobbled by unfair restrictions on their ability to make a living. Both Uber and Lyft drivers that service other airports like LAX have suffered with significant fines and in some cases, vehicle confiscations.
As far as we know, Long Beach Airport is unaffected by these likely illegal bans.
The Board needs to step into this, and right away. Ridesharing services are valuable and very well liked by consumers (my friend Jon Fleischman is a big Uber fan), particularly as they’re less expensive and, simply put, aren’t cabs. It’s unfair that consumers can’t have a choice, and more than unfair that a small minority of entrepreneurs are being punished and threatened for just making a living.