New Transport Services Present Governance Challenges

by Jeremy Loudenback

During his campaign for mayor, Eric Garcetti positioned himself as the young, technology-savvy alternative to other candidates. During the first few months of his administration, he’s already broken new ground with a plan to use the Internet to deliver data about the performance of city departments and services, and he’s also voiced support for innovative app-driven companies like Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar that connect passengers to drivers interested in ride-sharing via smartphones. Much like other cities across the country, ride-share services have seen an explosion of popularity in Los Angeles, especially with many younger users who prefer their lower cost, ease of use, and flexibility.

NextGenTransportationBut the rise of ride-share services has not gone over well with traditional private-sector transportation providers like taxicab companies, who allege that operators like Lyft and Uber are dangerously under-regulated, unsafe, and may not service riders living in low-income areas or with disabilities. In September, California became the first state to regulate fast-growing ride-share companies, allowing them to continue operation as long as certain safety and insurance requirements are met.

The future of private-sector transportation in Los Angeles is still murky. Despite Mayor Garcetti’s support of services like Lyft, the City Council is interested in continuing the discussion, with City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Gil Cedillo expressing concern about ability of the impact of the new services on the city’s taxicab companies. The city’s regulatory body for taxis has also expressed fierce opposition to the ride-share companies, citing the difficulty of overseeing the new companies’ compliance with city and state regulations.

On Wednesday, in collaboration with the METRANS Transportation Center, the Bedrosian Center will continue the discussion about ride-sharing services and other innovative transportation companies with a panel entitled “NextGen Transportation: Private Sector Alternatives.” As part of the Price Research Center Collaborative, panelists from the Bedrosian Center, METRANS Transportation Center, USC Engineering Department, Megabus, and Zipcar will discuss the impact of Lyft, Zipcar, Megabus, and other services, especially as they relate to building more effective transportation for a city inexorably linked to car ownership. Make sure to RSVP here—seats are limited!