Taxi Rides, and Drivers, Are on the Decline in West Hollywood

Taxi use in West Hollywood has dropped an estimated 40% to 60% since 2012, and nearby cities have seen declines at least as large. That is according to two new reports by WeHo by the Numbers, based on city data. One report focuses on West Hollywood, the other on nearby cities. They look at the impact of Uber (which arrived in 2012) and Lyft (2013).

Seven taxi companies currently serve West Hollywood under city-granted franchises. They provided an estimated 500 taxi trips per day in the city in 2016.

Since earlier trip numbers are not available, the report estimates the drop in trips based on the declining number of taxis and taxi drivers. Each individual taxi and driver working in West Hollywood needs a permit, so the city knows how many there are. That does not necessarily mean they are in West Hollywood full-time. Some or all of them also work in neighboring cities.

The city sets the maximum number of taxis that the companies can use in West Hollywood. Prior to 2012, the cap was 530. In 2012, the cap was raised to 569 at the companies’ request. That is a big number for a small city. It reflected demand from the city’s hotels and nightlife businesses and the ability to use the same taxis in neighboring cities.

Since 2012, the actual number of taxis has dropped far below the cap. Currently, there are 349, almost 40% below the cap. It suggests that taxi usage has dropped at least 40% since 2012.

The number of taxi drivers in West Hollywood has dropped even faster than the number of taxis. It fell from about 950 in 2012 to about 350 in 2016. That’s a decrease of over 60%, suggesting that taxi use may have dropped as much as 60%.

A closer look at the taxi driver numbers shows that the losses have been accelerating. In 2012, the number of drivers increased 6%. In the following years, it fell 5%, 19%, 26%, and 34%. The losses come from an increasing share of drivers quitting West Hollywood, along with fewer and fewer new drivers replacing them.

The drop in taxi trips can be seen in the city’s nightlife areas. Taxis used to be the primary for-hire transportation mode. But when the city’s consultants checked last year, taxis had only 6% of the pickups and fewer drop-offs. Uber, Lyft, and car services had the rest.

Nearby cities have experienced drops in taxi use at least as big as West Hollywood’s 40% to 60%. For example, the number of taxi trips in Los Angeles fell 44% from 2012 to 2016. It went from 8.4 million to 4.7 million, a loss of 3.7 million trips a year or 10,000 trips a day. If not for growth at Los Angeles International Airport, the overall decline in taxi trips would have been about 60%.

To find out more, see the full reports, How much has taxi use dropped in West Hollywood? and How does the drop in taxi use in nearby cities compare to West Hollywood?

  1. Yes, taxi cabs unfairly must go through additional hurdles to operate (vehicle checks by City, franchise fees, etc) but I don’t believe that is the primary reason for their decline. Speaking as someone who took only a handful of taxicab rides outside of my business travels, since the introduction of Uber/Lyft, I’ve taken thousands of rides with them without regard to whether personal or business related and have went further to encourage friends and family to do the same.

    While I know there are terrific cab drivers out there that have amazing stories and the wealth of knowledge they have about the city makes them a terrific resource for visitors, too many simply tried to rip you off. They often would ignore the flat rates negotiated by the city to travel from WeHo to LAX, attempting to charge the higher metered rate and playing dumb when called out on it; and my biggest pet peeve which has NEVER been a problem with Uber/Lyft is the acceptance of credit cards. Although required to accept credit cards to operate in the City of WeHo, I’d jump into a cab and confirm they accepted credit cards only to be told upon arrival that their machine wasn’t working. (An aside: earlier this week LAX Fly Away to Hollywood driver realized her credit card machine didn’t work, she smiled and told us all our trip was free and to have a spectacular night!)

    I feel as safe or safer in an Uber/Lyft where every move is recorded through the app. There will always be bad actors, but my jumping into an Uber/Lyft is not taking any greater chance with my safety than jumping onto a Metro bus or showing up at a location where a large crowd has congregated. I can see a picture of the car, driver and plate number in advance of my pickup, during my ride and after my drop off, whereas in a taxi I could barely see through that dirty plastic divider to see the old tattered photo on license taped to the dash – after exiting the cab I’d never be able tell you the name of the driver or whether that hanging “license” was authentic.

    Where I previously placed my trust in cities & taxi companies to select drivers that will treat me well, I now trust my fellow riders to do that through the ratings they give the drivers. Neither method is perfect but I don’t think either peer ratings are less safe than background checks that often do more to harm one’s reputation or rehabilitation than to help promote general public safety.

  2. My husband and I have been using Uber and Lyft since they started operating here. And as retirees we are eligible for the WeHo discount taxi card, but no longer use it. Some main reasons:
    1. Constantly arguing with drivers who don’t want to take the card even though they are obligated to (most people we’ve spoken with who also use the card have related the same experiences);
    2. Rude drivers;
    3. Calling for a cab from Pavilions with a load of groceries and being told the wait was “5 to 15”, then having to call back once, twice, and even three times before the taxi deigns to show up.
    Even though it’s not necessarily cheaper than using our taxi card, it’s well worth it to avoid these hassles.

  3. Mick, sorry you had that horrible experience. I’m guessing that is a rare type of thing.

    The fee they have to pay the city is indeed unfair.

    However, ride-sharing has been a bit of a godsend. It has made it affordable to get around, and has taken many, many drunk drivers off the road. Who knows how many lives have been saved as a result?

    I remember a few years ago, before Uber, coming back from Akbar in Silverlake and the cab ride being $60-$70. That same trip is now probably more like $15-$25. I never drank and drove before Uber, but many did, and many of those aren’t doing that anymore.

  4. This decline in taxi use is primary caused by the fact that Uber & Lyft do not have to pay the city a yearly fee. Each taxi must pay WeHo city $1200 annually in order to operate as a business. Uber & Lyft do NOT have to pay this fee. This is completely unfair to the taxi business, as they have been paying the city for decades. The biggest advantage for a single woman to use taxis is SAFETY. I took a ride with a stranger once & got punched in the head and my purse, keys, ID, & other bag were stolen. I was lucky to get out of the car with my life. Riding in a non-taxi with a stranger could open anyone up to theft or rape or worse. When you get into a car with a stranger who has NOT had to pass a BACK ROUND CHECK you are taking a risk. I will ONLY USE TAXIS because of the mugging I suffered. When i get into a taxi I can look at the license & photo on the dashboard & make sure the driver is that person. No strange drivers for me.

  5. This is due to Taxi drivers who are rude, taxi’s that smell bad as some drivers smoke when they wait to get a fare and they eat in their taxi’s and they just can’t compete with Uber. I stopped using taxi’s in 2013 and use Uber exclusively and I have never had a problem. United Taxi is the worst offender. Every time I used one it smelled so bad the windows had to be down do the spray they would use to hide the stench

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