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Long Beach taxis change to better compete with Uber

Long Beach taxis change to better compete with Uber

Old May 14, 15, 8:54 am
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Long Beach taxis change to better compete with Uber

Long Beach allows taxis to lower fares as they compete with Uber, Lyft

Long Beach officials are pursuing a new strategy to resolve the growing rift between taxi drivers and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, becoming the nation's first large city to relax restrictions on cabs, rather than increase regulation of their new competitors.

Removing requirements that taxi drivers say have put them at a competitive disadvantage, the City Council voted Tuesday to allow its exclusive cab franchise to rebrand itself, update the appearance of its fleet and offer variable, discounted fares, free rides and other price promotions to lure customers.

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Yellow Cab officials said drivers now will be able to compete with app-based transportation start-ups that adjust prices based on supply and demand, often resulting in lower fares. But the new services also hike rates sharply during periods of peak demand, such as 2 a.m. on a Saturday night in entertainment magnets such as downtown Long Beach and Hollywood.

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The changes approved Tuesday leave in place the price ceiling for Long Beach taxis. That could become a competitive advantage, some predict, because cabs could prove cheaper than Uber and other such services during periods of peak demand. It also protects some traditional cab users from price spikes.

"Not allowing surge pricing, particularly when people expect taxis to provide a reliable service, is important," Garcia said. "A lot of seniors and visitors are used to a certain way that taxis operate. We need to keep some elements of that."

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