Los Angeles International Has A Plan To Help Beat Traffic

Traffic congestion at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has become a major problem in recent years. It comes as little surprise at an airport that serviced over 85 million people in 2018. A contributing factor has been the increase in travellers to and from the airport making use of popular ride-share options such as Uber and Lyft. In a bid to address the issue, LAX announced new regulations regarding the use of ride-share services outside of the terminals. Simple Flying has taken a look at what this means from October 29 onwards.

Ride-sharing customers at LAX face new protocol from October 29. Photo: Ken Lund via Flickr

Traffic at LAX

Los Angeles International is the 4th largest airport in the world by passengers serviced each year. In 2018, 87.5 million people were accommodated, putting a massive strain on LAX traffic. Congestion has also spread to the surrounding neighbourhoods.

With the airport currently undergoing a US$14 billion upgrade to its terminals and road network, necessary road closures have made it increasingly difficult to manage the presence of vehicles travelling to and from LAX.

With more and more people making use of ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft, the presence of cars hanging around the terminal entry points is blocking the normal flow of traffic. It is a problem faced by many airports around the world, and it may be expected that many will soon start regulating where and how these services may operate.

The solution

On Thursday, LAX officials announced that curbside collections will no longer be allowed. From the end of October, passengers who want to make use of ride-sharing services will have to make their way to a newly dedicated pick-up point away from the terminals. To facilitate this, the airport will appoint a shuttle-lane to take passengers to where their ride will be waiting.

LAX says that passengers will wait 3-5 minutes for a shuttle, with a ride taking no more than 10 minutes. All in all, that’s not bad considering they can be at their waiting ride in a quarter of an hour after walking out of the terminal. The new waiting area will be around an 18-minute walk from the terminals at most and is to be named “LAX-it”. The pick-up lot will include a number of amenities to further encourage its use.

LAX will make use of shuttles to transport ride-sharing customers to a designated pick-up area. Photo: Bob B. Brown via Flickr

The use of designated lots for ride-share pick-ups have been successfully implemented at, amongst others, San Francisco International Airport. Though many passengers may find the process irksome, the end result is a much better flow of traffic and less delay for everyone coming to and from the airport.

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Reaction

LAX’s move may be seen as a short-term solution in preparation for the completion of its automated train system project, expected to enter service in 2023. It is clear, however, that the short-term fix is necessary to address delays faced by commuters. Lyft and Uber have both responded to the announcement, albeit with two different attitudes.

Uber harbours concerns about LAX’s plan for ride-sharing collections. Photo: Elliot Brown via Flickr

Lyft has taken the position of cooperation in the matter, deciding that the best way forward for all parties would be to collaborate in reducing the issue of traffic delays, as well as ensuring the ride-share space allotments are as convenient as possible for its customers.

On the other hand, Uber harbours certain concerns about the way in which this is being done. Simple Flying has reached out to Uber for comment on these concerns, so keep an eye out for updates in the coming days.

Impossible as it is to keep everyone happy, will it be a move that improves Los Angeles International’s customer service ratings, or will those who frequent ride-share services be left even more unimpressed?

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Jim P

I’m always fascinated by changes to LAX result in “only an 18 minute walk to [fill in the blank]” phrases in the description of the change. Are there no handicapped or mobility-impaired air customers in LA? And an 18-minute walk while dragging luggage behind can be a challenge to healthy people.

Matt

Yeah, it’s Uber and Lyft that are causing traffic at LAX. It has nothing to do with the poor planning when they built the airport. How do you design a 9 terminal mega airport, and bunch all 9 terminals together? Then, make sure they are all served by the same access road. I don’t understand why this was never even attempted to be remedied. The space is there but very poorly utilized.