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Uber and Lyft drivers can now operate almost like taxi drivers at LAX

Uber and Lyft drivers can now operate almost like taxi drivers at LAX
Ann Marie Bingo catches her UberX driver Mike Miller at Los Angeles International Airport (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

In hopes of reducing airport congestion, Los Angeles International Airport has given Uber and Lyft drivers the green light to pick up passengers after making a drop-off.

In the past, the drivers of such ride-sharing services could only drop off or pick up a passenger from the terminal curb but were prohibited from doing both in the same trip. Over the last few weeks, Uber and Lyft drivers have been testing a new booking program dubbed Rematch.

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Under the new technology, the ride-hailing services can alert drivers who are dropping off a passenger that another passenger is ready to be picked up from a nearby terminal.

"For the past month, Lyft and Uber have been fine-tuning Rematch ahead of the Labor Day weekend to ensure that our guests have the best experience they can in their travels to and from LAX, and we're encouraged by the initial results," said Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director for operations and emergency management at Los Angeles World Airports.

Under the change, Uber and Lyft drivers will receive a notification of a new LAX passenger for pickup either before the drivers drop off passengers already in their cars or shortly thereafter.

Uber and Lyft drivers won't be allowed to circle the central terminal area repeatedly trying to find another fare, according to airport and Uber officials. The booking technology used by Uber and Lyft won't offer another LAX fare to such drivers until they leave the airport.

The Rematch technology is already in use at San Francisco International Airport, Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and Oakland International Airport.

The change is sure to make life harder for taxi drivers who have already lost a big chunk of their business to ride-hailing services.

Taxi rides account for only 8% of the expense reports filed by U.S. business travelers for ground transportation, with rental cars representing 29% of expenses, according to a study of expense reports filed using Certify in the three months ended June 30.

Meanwhile, 55% of the expense reporters were for Uber rides and 8% were for Lyft, according to the study of more than 10 million expense reports analyzed by Certify, the nation's largest online expense report management company.

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