If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
While ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are weathering a regulatory onslaught across the globe as they continue to disrupt long-established transportation industries, the city of Long Beach, Calif., is taking a different tact.
Rather than increasing regulations for ridesharing startups, Long Beach officials are relaxing restrictions on traditional taxi drivers, The Los Angeles Times reports. Yesterday, the City Council voted to allow its exclusive cab franchise, Yellow Long Beach, to repaint its fleet of cabs a bright lemon color as well as to offer discounted fares and even free rides.
The rebranding effort also comprises a proprietary mobile app, which will enable consumers to summon and pay for rides with credit cards.
Previously, Long Beach taxi prices were legally fixed at a rate of $2.85 plus $2.70 for every mile thereafter. Now, while taxis won’t be able to charge any more than that -- in the way that Uber and Lyft surge pricing in times of high demand -- Yellow Long Beach drivers will be able to charge less than the going rate.
Officials said that Long Beach, whose cab business has plummeted 15 percent over the last year, is the perfect testing grounds for this new model, given that the city is served by a single cab company while also being something of a business and tourism hub.
"We're trying to create a service that's somewhere in between a traditional cab service and a traditional ride-sharing service,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia told the Times.