Study on better connecting LAX to Metro Rail to be considered by Metro Board

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It’s one of those planning questions that’s only — and I say ‘only’ sarcastically — several decades old: how to improve mass transit to Los Angeles International Airport?

A study to answer that question may soon be underway. The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday is scheduled to vote on a contract of about $4.7 million to STV/PB-ConnectLAX Joint Venture to conduct environmental studies for a transit project to connect the Green Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line to the terminals at LAX.

As the Metro staff report states, some of the alternatives to be considered — but not limited to — include light rail, bus rapid transit and an automated people mover. The city of Los Angeles agency that runs LAX is already studying a people mover as part of its airport modernization plans.

The Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will stop at Aviation and Century boulevards, to the east of the airport grounds (see the above map). It’s closer to LAX than the current Green Line Aviation/LAX station, but still about 1.8 miles to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The Crenshaw/LAX Line will also allow westbound Green Line trains from Norwalk to turn north and continue to the Aviation/Century station on the new Crenshaw tracks.

A project to connect the Green Line and LAX was included in the list of projects to be built with Measure R funds — in fact, state elected officials from the South Bay and Westside wouldn’t have let Measure R go to voters without it.

It’s also a closely watched project outside of Los Angeles: At a recent field hearing in Westwood, Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), who chairs the House’s transportation committee, recently spoke of his great desire to travel to and from the congested LAX area by train.

Mica is also in a position of great influence: the next federal transportation spending bill has to pass muster with his committee. Metro is seeking to have that bill include language to accelerate the construction of Measure R projects by having greater access to federal loans and other financing.

32 replies

  1. So has anybody considered connecting the other end of the green line to an Amtrak/Metrolink station (maybe Fullerton)? That would make getting to LAX from OC and San Diego so much easier! As much as I like trains, I really don’t need to take a tour of the entire metro rail system everytime I to go the airport.


  2. What must be done is extend the tracks rom the Century Aviation Station with a stop at the City Bus Center and then underground under the airport exit road with 3 stops: Terminals 1 and 7, Terminals 2,5 and 6, and Terminals 3,4 and the Bradley International terminal. The less changes people have to make the more riders. No connections to the line,rather the line goes right to the airport. Moving sidewalks would transport passengers directly to the terminals


  3. Demolishing one, if not all of parking lots in the central terminal area at LAX are another thing that’s a must. LAX has limited space to expand; we need to put land space at the airport to better use than parking lots.

    There’s plenty of public and private off-site parking lots outside of the airport so the land space for those on-site parking lots at LAX could be put to better use like expanded terminal space.

    People walking to/from those central parking lots with pedestrian crossings and traffic signals just add up to more traffic jams anyway.


  4. One thing to understand about SFO is that most BART passengers have to take the people mover after they get off BART. BART arrives in what’s essentially the basement of the International Terminal. If you’re going to any other terminal you need to get onto the people mover.

    During the planning process for extending BART to SFO, some people argued for an off-site terminal connected by a people mover to all terminals. Elected officials, however, insisted upon a station in the airport.

    The commuter rail train serving Philadelphia airport stops several times at different terminals, which is convenient, but slows down the service.


  5. When making a people mover, LAX needs to also consider whether to position it pre-TSA (like JFK’s AirTrain) or post-TSA (like DFW’s Skylink) and if the people mover will be bi-directional.

    This makes a huge difference when making connecting flights.

    Right now, it’s a pain in the butt as it is to make a connection at LAX because none of the terminals are link together behind security.

    If one arrives at T5 and have to make a connecting flight that departs from TBIT, one has to get out of T5, wait for the uni-directional terminal connection bus that goes T5-T6-T7-T1-T2-T3-TBIT (or just walk from T5 to TBIT), and reclear security again at TBIT.


  6. In addition to sfo, chicago (CTA) also connects to its ohare airport (and midway). Seattle and Portland also have direct rail connections to their respective airports. Having used both sfo BART and CTA midway. The SFO extension by its nature is really not much different from the ohare or midway CTA extensions in terms of usefulness and application. And people aren’t suggesting that having CTA rail at ohare is not practical. With the SFO extension, it did not “reduce” ridership, that doesn’t make sense as it simply added stations therefore its SOME more people, it just did not get nearly the ridership it should have. But the actual airpot station has pretty good patronage, its just that the other stations like San bruno, South san francisco, and colma do not have very good ridership, but that should not discount the benefits of having bart to sfo, it just could have been done better. But I do agree that they messed up the connection to Caltrain.

    With LAX, a people mover connection might be better than direct service due to placement of the airport in the metro area and since it would involve making a major detour into the airport from the main line. JFK is a good example of a not direct but still robust and fast connection to mass transit. Then again, if people SEE the LRT right there in front of the airport terminals, they may very well want to use it more and will see that LA has some rail transit to use.


  7. I am amused by reading all the comments. This isn’t an airport with one central terminal or even two — it has seven terminals (not counting the Imperial Ave. terminal), so it’s similar to JFK and Newark. Both of those airports use people-mover systems and trips at both airports take a long time, particularly if you are at the last stop. The only logical rail solution at LAX is to build an elevated light rail line on a straight line from the Aviation/Century Blvd. station into the airport with long walkways to reach the terminals. But whether that’s worth the money is open to serious debate. Better roadway traffic management that gave priority to shuttle buses over private cars would accomplish the same thing as building a people mover that ran to all seven terminals at a fraction of the cost. One advantage of building a rail line would be that it could start at the Aviation Green Line station, stop at Aviation/Century and then proceed west. I agree with one comment that such a spur would also be the time to extend the Green Line east to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs rail station so it can connect up with Amtrak and Metrolink trains and provide one-stop train connections from Orange County to LAX.


  8. @Bob

    First of all, giving priority to shuttles over cars is only a bandage solution to an ever growing problem. The fact that LAX is a mess with traffic jams is because how poorly it is designed and how badly it’s manage to handle any traffic.

    You have all these redundant buses that goes to the same place. Why is there even a bus for Hilton LAX and another one for the Parking Spot Century when they are literally right next door to each other? Why can’t we use say the G Shuttle that takes me to Aviation/LAX station as a terminal connections bus when it makes stops at every terminals anyway?

    You have pedestrian walkways with traffic signals that clogs up traffic at the busiest curve: the T3-TBIT-T4 area is always packed with shuttle buses, taxis, private automobiles, police cars, and even TV crew vans all trying to squeeze in and out.

    Now everyone says that they need a people mover to every terminal. No, all one needs is to demolish the central parking structures and build one or two rail stations there so it can be accessible to all terminals from the center. LAX’s terminals are laid out on an inverted U shape. Just put a inside the U and you get a visual image of what I mean. One or two train stations in the middle of the “U” could easily serve as a train station that links every terminal.



  9. Most of the posted comments about the BART/SFO connection are misleading, if not outright incorrect.
    There IS a direct link from BART into SFO. The station is located on the departure level (not the basement) of the international terminal. But SFO also has an automated peoplemover system that connects between the domstic/international terminals and the airport’s parking garages. So a passenger taking BART to SFO but destined for one of the domstic terminals simply exits the BART sttaion and takes an elevator to the people mover level, then takes the automated tram to the desired airline stop. It’s SOOOOOO easy even a caveman could do it.