How much has taxi use dropped in West Hollywood?
Seven taxi companies serve West Hollywood under City-granted franchises. Their main competitors are the “transportation network companies” (TNCs) Uber and Lyft. This report looks at how deeply TNCs have cut into the taxi companies’ business since 2012, when Uber launched in the Los Angeles area. A companion report examines the impact in Beverly Hills, Culver City, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica.
Drop in the number of trips
There were an estimated 500 taxi trips per day in West Hollywood in 2016, according to a City report. Unfortunately, we don’t have trip numbers for prior years, so we can’t calculate the actual drop in usage. Instead, we’ll estimate it based on the declining number of taxis and taxi drivers.
One hint comes from observations of taxi usage in nightlife areas. Before TNCs, taxis provided most of the for-hire trips to and from the city’s bars and restaurants. Car services did the rest. But when the City’s consultants checked last year, taxis had only 6% of the pickups and fewer drop-offs. TNCs had between 76% and 94% of the market, depending on how many of the car-service vehicles (“black cars”) were acting as TNCs. Even if this is the worst-hit part of the taxi market, the overall drop in taxi trips must be large.
Drop in the number of taxis
Each individual taxi and driver working in West Hollywood needs a City permit, so the City knows how many there are. That doesn’t necessarily mean the taxis and drivers 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’s 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.
Drop in the number of drivers
The number of taxi drivers in West Hollywood has dropped even faster than the number of taxis. The number fell from about 950 in 2012 to about 350 in 2016. That’s a decrease of over 60%. So we’ll broaden our estimate of the decline in taxi usage to at least 40% to 60%.
Accelerating loss of drivers
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. In 2012, 19% of the prior year’s drivers stopped working in West Hollywood. By 2016, the share doubled to 38%. In other words, two out of five drivers quit the city in 2016. Meanwhile, new drivers fell from 25% of the prior year’s total to 4%.