Connecting the Crenshaw/LAX transit corridor to the airport

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With the Crenshaw/LAX Line receiving a $546-million loan from the federal government last week to speed its construction, we’ve received some questions from readers about how the project will connect to the airport.

I spoke with Metro planners. Here is where things stand for now:

•The Crenshaw/LAX Line will include an elevated station at the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards — outside the main entrance to LAX. This stop is one mile closer to LAX han the current Green Line stop that is south of the airport. Shuttle buses currently run between the Green Line stop and the airport.

•It still needs to be determined how transit will connect the new Aviation/Century station to the airport terminals. Los Angeles World Airports — a city of Los Angeles agency — has talked about building a people mover between the station and the airport terminals as part of its long-planned renovation of LAX. But that project has not entered the formal environmental study phase.

•Extending the light rail line into the airport grounds has not yet been ruled out. But there are issues. An underground line would likely be beyond the funding Measure R could provide. Building at street level or above would be difficult because of existing parking garages and other buildings that are in the way and the tight turns of the airport horseshoe road.

•The Aviation/Century station is expected to be a major transit center, with bus service links to many areas, including the airport.

•When the Crenshaw/LAX line is complete, trains on the Crenshaw/LAX line will continue south on the Green Line to the current terminus in Redondo Beach. The train could one day go farther: a separate Measure R project proposes to possibly extend the Green Line four miles to a planned regional transit center in Torrance.

•In addition, westbound Green Line trains will be able to continue north on the Crenshaw/LAX line to a new terminus at Aviation/Century station without having to switch trains.

•Southbound Crenshaw/LAX riders will need to transfer to go east on the Green Line.

•It typically takes anywhere from 36 minutes to an hour to travel on transit from 7th/Metro Center in downtown L.A. to the Green Line’s Aviation/LAX station — via various combinations of the Blue Line, Green Line and/or express bus service.

•In the future it will also be possible for passengers to take the Expo Line from downtown and switch to the Crenshaw/LAX Line to reach the new Aviation/Century station. Metro planners say that trip should take about 43 minutes — not including the transfer at Expo and Crenshaw.  Keep in mind that’s an estimate, given that Expo isn’t complete and Crenshaw hasn’t yet started construction.

•To put it another way, at this point it appears travel times to reach the airport on either the future Blue-to-Green line combo or Expo-to-Crenshaw combo appear to be similar.

•While a lot of readers are understandably focused on the downtown L.A.-to-airport rail connection provided by the Expo and Crenshaw Lines, I encourage them to think a little broader. At this point, we know there will be two lines — Crenshaw and Green — that get closer to the airport then what currently exists. And those lines connect to the rest of the transit network. And, in the meantime, there are other transportation options, such as the Flyaway bus.

•Enhancing transit connections to the airport doesn’t help just passengers — but the thousands of people who work at the airport and surrounding area.