Pricing was not the one issue. In 10 % of the taxi journeys in Ms. Brown’s research, the motive force traveled twice as many miles as obligatory, including $5 to the journey’s price.

Interviewing the scholars afterward, Ms. Brown mentioned: “They felt the unreliability of taxis didn’t finish once they bought within the automobile. They didn’t understand how a lot the journey could be. There wasn’t at all times a recourse in the event that they have been unhappy with the motive force. Uber and Lyft, they may complain and get their a refund.”

It’s these points that Los Angeles is attempting to handle with its new taxi allow system.

Taxis have tried to innovate, Ms. Brown mentioned. Many cab firms have developed their very own apps, however they work just for that particular person fleet, and that fleet won’t function within the space the place a buyer wants a experience. Whereas not less than one app developer has tried to carry all of the cabs’ apps underneath the identical tent to allow them to function in a fashion extra like Uber or Lyft, that app doesn’t work nicely, she mentioned.

And that raises the query: If Uber and Lyft supply superior service at a greater value, and if taxis’ makes an attempt to emulate ride-hail applied sciences aren’t working, why not simply let the taxi system fail?

“Taxis are this legacy service,” mentioned Ms. Brown, now an assistant professor on the College of Oregon. “They’re a extremely essential mode for thus many vacationers.”

Particularly, they’re essential for vacationers who don’t personal a automobile, or who could not have the required smartphone or debit or bank card to make use of a ride-hail app.

Ms. Brown mentioned taxis have been used most frequently by town’s lowest-income folks, who pay with money.

Taxis serve one other objective, in keeping with Mr. Murray, of town’s Transportation Division. As a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, the Federal Transit Administration requires cities to supply complementary paratransit service to folks with sure disabilities. The Los Angeles Transportation Division saves cash by subcontracting 65 % of these rides to its taxi firms, he mentioned.


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