Car-sharing services Uber and Lyft likely to keep operating in L.A.

It looks like lovers of car-sharing apps can sleep well tonight. Representatives from two of the three companies hit with cease-and-desist letters from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation suggested they will continue to operate.

Both Uber and Lyft cited the California Public Utilities Commission, which earlier this year cleared both companies to operate in the state of California. Sidecar, which was also hit with a letter from Los Angeles, also is permitted by the commission to operate, though company officials did not respond to my request for comment.

“We already signed an agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission explicitly stating that Uber services, including the eco-friendly uberX, are authorized to operate statewide,” an Uber spokesman wrote me in an email. “In this case, it’s the state PUC who has jurisdiction, and the PUC has explicitly given the authority for these drivers to operate.”

A Lyft spokeswoman sent a statement from company founder and president John Zimmer.

“Yesterday’s cease and desist letter from a taxi regulator within the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) is similar to what we received when we first launched in San Francisco one year ago. Since that time, we have
signed an operating agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which allows us to operate legally throughout California. The CPUC operating agreement clarifies that we are not a taxi and demonstrates that this is a state issue.”

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Ride-sharing service Lyft responses to criticism from L.A.

1 p.m. UPDATE: We received a more thorough non-Twitter response from Lyft:

“Lyft’s hundreds of thousands of community members are changing the way
people get around, and making city life more affordable, friendly and
efficient. As with innovations and movements before us, there will
often be challenges and hurdles along the way. Yesterday’s cease and
desist letter from a taxi regulator within the Los Angeles Department
of Transportation (LADOT) is similar to what we received when we first
launched in San Francisco one year ago. Since that time, we have
signed an operating agreement with the California Public Utilities
Commission (CPUC), which allows us to operate legally throughout
California. The CPUC operating agreement clarifies that we are not a
taxi and demonstrates that this is a state issue.”

ORIGINAL POST: In response to my story Monday about the cease and desist letters sent by Los Angeles to ride-sharing firms, I heard today from Lyft, one of the companies told to stop operating in Los Angeles.

Like Uber and Sidecar, the company was told by the L.A. taxi administrator that it is not properly licensed to facilitate car pickups in the city. I’ve heard from many customers upset about this development. Consumers, especially younger ones, seem to appreciate the opportunity to arrange shared rides via mobile phone apps. Most say they they don’t mind that the drivers aren’t professionally licensed as livery drivers.

Here are a series of Tweets I received today from Lyft. The CPUC referenced below is the California Public Utilities Commission:

@BrianSumers The Mayor and Mayor-elect support the sharing economy and we look forward to working with them moving forward.

@BrianSumers We have an operating agreement with the CPUC allowing us to operate statewide in CA. http://blog.lyft.me/post/41875764373/progress-lyft-reaches-interim-agreement-with-cpuc …

@BrianSumers We’re in touch with Mayor Villaraigosa’s office and look forward to resolving LADOT’s questions.

 

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United Airlines debuts new uniforms

United Airlines debuted new uniforms for its front-line workers on Tuesday, more than two and a half years after the carrier completed its merger with Continental Airlines.

The new uniforms means that the distinctive former United logo — a stylized ‘U’ that was nicknamed “the Tulip” has disappeared from workers’ clothing.

Here are some pictures of the new look. What do you think of it? Incidentally, have you ever seen airline employees smile so much?

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US Airways and American merger: What it might mean for Los Angeles

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Soon, American Airlines and US Airways will merge to form the world’s largest airline – assuming the deal is approved by regulators. The new carrier will be called American, but much of its top management, including chief executive Doug Parker, will be from US Airways.

What does this merger mean for Los Angeles?

American operates a hub at Los Angeles International Airport, while US Airways has its West Coast base in Phoenix. There’s a lot of speculation on how the combined carrier will approach its Western operations. It’s early, so it’s not clear that anyone knows how the two hubs will coexist.

Two months ago, I visited US Airways in Phoenix. I spoke with Andrew Nocella, senior vice president for marketing and planning, about the approach the new American could take in Los Angeles. The conversation is a tad stale — hey, I didn’t have the blog in April — but it should give a decent idea of what the future might look like.

In recent history, what has been US Airways’ approach to LAX?

We have had a strategy at US Airways that has focused around four key hubs. In our case they are Phoenix, Charlotte, Washington, DC and Philadelphia. They are points of strength for us. They have a lot of connectivity for us. As we looked at our business, and we looked at the margins we needed and where we needed to be and where we wanted to go, we found that has been working for us. I tend to think it was a long transition out of a bunch of markets that we were big in, but as a somewhat niche player in the marketplace we knew we couldn’t be big in every market. We focused efforts in the places where we thought we could be most profitable. In this particular case, Los Angeles is a great spoke for US Airways today. It’s a profitable operation for US Airways so we are very happy with it.

How might the future look?

In the future, things will be a little bit different, as we’ll be one of three large mega carriers here in the country. Los Angeles is a top business market – No. 2 in the country behind New York. We intend to make sure we will keep the operations in all nine (new American) hubs going forward. Los Angeles and New York are a very important to the strategy. The strategy of a stand-alone US Airways is different than the strategy of a merged US Airways and American. Times change and we will adjust our business philosophy and strategies accordingly.

No airline dominates Los Angeles, and the domestic market is shared among American, United, Delta and Southwest. Why doe you suppose that is?

I think it’s because it’s such a large business center. Also, it has unique geography. As a domestic hub, Los Angeles’ geography is not optimal. It’s as far west as you are going to go, basically – other than going to Hawaii. Because it doesn’t have the same type of centralized geography as most of the other hubs in the country, you wound up with a situation where multiple airlines are kind of going after the same bread and butter. As a result, you have the market divided amongst really four major players – the three legacy airlines now and Southwest.

How has this L.A. market been for US Airways?

It’s a lucrative operation for US Airways. I don’t know the economics of American Airlines. I haven’t seen the numbers. But I am optimistic that LAX is going to be a growing part of the combined company and hopefully a bigger Asian gateway for the company over time. I’m bullish on its role for the future. Really, the question mark for LAX in the future is going to be its facility constraints. Today, one thing I do know is that American is completely full in their concourse. The new (Tom Bradley International Terminal) is a little bit late, which has some cascading implications. We are soon moving to Terminal 3, which is across the horseshoe, so we are going to have to figure out how to rationalize LAX issues so we can create a level of convenience for our customers and a platform for growth.

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Sidecar, Uber and Lyft told to stop operating in Los Angeles

Three popular car-for-hire companies — Sidecar, Uber and Lyft — received cease-and-desist letters Monday from the city of Los Angeles, accusing them of operating illegally.

I’ll have a full story up soon. But in the meantime, below are the letters sent today by the city’s taxicab administrator. They’re short. Each is only about a page and a half.

It’s not yet clear what the companies will do in response.

Uber Cease & Desist LADOT June 24, 2013

Sidecar Cease & Desist LADOT June 24, 2013

Lyft Cease & Desist LADOT June 24, 3012

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