But now licensed cabdrivers in this city where the car remains king are facing their greatest competition in half a century, from new ride-sharing programs that use smartphone apps to connect drivers and passengers.
At the end of a night of drinking recently, rather than hailing a cab, Trisha DiFazio tapped an app called Lyft on her phone to summon a ride. Minutes later, a graduate student moonlighting as a driver pulled up in a Toyota S.U.V. with Lyft’s signature pink mustache affixed to its grille.
“This is so much cheaper than a cab, and so much easier,” said Ms. DiFazio, 31. “I absolutely think my friends drink and drive less because of this.”
Transit experts say these new services, which appeal to younger riders, could play a crucial role in ending the reign of single-occupant cars (and unending traffic) in Los Angeles, and many young residents have embraced them as a cheaper, more reliable and, well, more fun way to get around the city. But some of the city’s licensed cabdrivers have another name for ride-sharing services: illegal bandit taxis.