Metro holds community workshop on connecting Metro Rail to LAX

Graphic by Metro. The time saving column reflects the average travel time over taking a bus from the intersection of Aviation and Century.

Metro hosted a community workshop Wednesday night at Union Station on the agency’s ongoing study to connect the Metro Green Line to Los Angeles International Airport.

Four general types of alternatives using three different types of transit — light rail, an automated people mover and bus rapid transit — were discussed (see chart above). The idea is to connect the future rail station at Aviation and Century — which will serve both the Metro Green Line and the Crenshaw/LAX Line — to the airport. That station is 1.3 miles east of Terminal One at LAX.

Metro is considering the cost, convenience, travel time and reliability of each option, as well as the usual no-build and traffic improvement options. Other factors include walking distance from transit stations to the terminals as well as the length of the trip from the Aviation and Century station to the airport. The more stations, of course, the more the cost — but the less the walk to the terminals.

Given the horseshoe-shaped configuration of LAX, locating stations at the airport will be challenging. The study considered aerial and tunnel access to the airport as well as at-grade access for bus rapid transit.

An aerial view of LAX from Google Maps. The green pin in the upper right is the future Crenshaw/Aviation rail station for the Green Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line. The green pin at bottom right is the existing Green Line Aviation station. Click above for a larger image.

The community workshops are a chance for the public to participate in the planning process. Some of the comments made by meeting attendees:

•Several said they want as many airport stations as possible, to reduce walk times from transit to the ticketing area. Several attendees said that long walks — even those more than 800 feet — were not a problem.

•Several attendees said they wanted as few transfers as possible and showed a preference for light rail and vehicles that could easily accommodate luggage.

•Some attendees didn’t seem concerned about the prospect of aerial structures that may be needed for transit and some said such structures may even complement the airport’s well-known Theme Building.

No one spoke in support of a bus rapid transit option — and considerable concern about the reliability of a BRT trip to the airport when time is of the essence. Even though buses may use an exclusive, elevated busway outside the terminals, the fact that buses would share the terminal roadway with cars and other airport traffic rendered the option less reliable and desirable.

Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008, provides $200 million in funding for the Metro Green Line to LAX project. Metro planning staff explained that capital costs for the options that use rail would range from $540 million to $1.4 billion depending on the alignment and number of stations within the terminal area. As a result, other funds will be needed to construct any project.

An alternative analysis study for the project — and a report on two or three options to be carried forward into the environmental review process — is scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board of Directors at their April meeting. The next step is for Metro to begin preparing a draft environmental analysis of the project.

Public meetings will be held throughout the process and coordination with Los Angeles World Airports, the airport authority, will continue as well. A new article in The Transport Politic also offers a detailed discussion of LAX transit options. For more information on the project or to share your comments with Metro, call (310) 499-0553, visit the project website or complete a comment form.