Expo will get its very own FlyAway service to LAX, starting this spring


FlyAway bus at Patsaouras Plaza/Union Station

FlyAway bus at Patsaouras Plaza/Union Station

Good news for Expo riders. New FlyAway bus shuttle service to LAX — this one from the Expo Line La Brea Station — will begin this spring (date to be determined), making 18 trips a day. To encourage ridership the price will begin at $6 one way but will rise to $7 after six months. The cost of running the service is $267,000 a year, according to airport officials.

In other FlyAway news: One-way fares between Van Nuys bus terminal and LAX will rise to $8 July 2. The increase is expected to reduce an annual defict of $531,000 for operating and maintaining the Van Nuys terminal to $168,000.

Lucky for those of us who use it, the popular FlyAway bus from Patsaouras Transit Plaza at Union Station will remain $7 one way.

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36 replies

  1. I have a proposal…. don’t laugh…what about a “Flyaway” service between UCLA and Union Station? No stops in between. If It was as punctual as the current service between Union Station and LAX – and I am happy with that service – I would definitely ride it. And pay $7.

  2. This distance based fare vs. flat fare debate is in the wrong spot. The story is about the FlyAway, which is a LAWA service, not Metro. It is here because Metro shares info about transportation in general in this blog.

    • Correct — and it’s the reason I’m not posting any more comments about the fare structure here. It’s the same old debate that has been hashed over numerous times on this comment board. This thread now returns to its original programming: FlyAway.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Sarcastic Angeleno: The “obvious” correction is to raise the base fare slightly, and allow free or low-cost transfers between Metro lines. (Just as you have between Metro and municipal buses today.)

    There are other transit agencies where paying a “single ride” fare entitles you to multiple transfers at no additional charge as long as you complete your trip within a set period of time (typically ranging from 90 minutes to four hours). People who don’t get a one-seat ride may not like having to change buses, but fares aren’t a sticking point. That gives agencies more flexibility when planning fixed route service, because they can do what makes the most operational sense for them.

    LAX Frequent Flyer: Other regions have a pretty good idea who their customers are. “Distance-based” systems tend to have the highest percentage of white riders, and those who earn above area median income. “Flat-fare” systems primarily serve minority and low-income ridership.

    Is distance-based more fair? Of course not. Odds are you’re just going to end up with another gerrymandered zone system, where someone who rides three miles on a single vehicle, but crosses a fare boundary, pays significantly more than someone who travels 12 miles within a single zone.

    Sarcastic Angeleno: It’s ridiculous to insist that transit systems be “profitable” when automobile drivers are subsidized. Revenues from vehicle registration fees and gas taxes aren’t sufficient to cover their infrastructure costs. Fix that, and we can talk. But I don’t think you want to open that can of worms. Think London is so great? Would you be willing to pay over $15 a day to drive your car into downtown L.A.? Because that’s what they do. That’s how they get those “millions” of riders to switch to transit.

    Yes, I’ve traveled outside the U.S. Heck, I’ve lived outside the U.S. What’s different? Number one, no Americans with Disabilities Act. Two, no Title VI. What makes us different? We have a heart. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

  4. in the valley,

    “This is about moving people from point A to point B and reducing vehicle traffic”

    If Amtrak were run under flat rate fares like Metro, do you think people will use Amtrak if the cost of going from LA to San Diego cost the same as going from LA to Chicago? $400 per person to go from LA to San Diego, and $400 per person to go from LA to Chicago. Or will people will say “forget it, I’m not paying $300 just to get to San Diego, I’ll drive.”

    It’s the same logic in smaller scale.

    If you want to move people from point A to point B and reduce vehicle traffic, you need a fare model that makes sense, not something where “I pay $3.00 to travel 5 miles over two trains, but the other guy pays $1.50 to travel 20 miles over one train.” Guess what the $3.00 guy is going to do? He’s going to say “screw this, I’m better off driving.”

  5. “Just because other countries do something doesn’t automatically mean that the USA must, right?”

    Yet, we also say “why can’t our city be more transit oriented like London or Tokyo.” Sorry bud, we can never become like London or Tokyo unless we also implement something that conservative transit supporters who wishes to keep flat rate fares because they don’t like change.

    And we have to admit that when it comes to mass transit, the USA sucks at it. We don’t even make our own trains, we have to import them or buy them from foreign owned companies like Siemens, Hyundai, or Kawasaki.

    Might as well learn from others who get the job right. That includes how to run base operations of things and remodeling their fare schemes. You can’t have “let’s become like London or Tokyo but let’s not copy that because I hate the idea because now I have to pay more to travel more.” Too bad, you chose to live far, now you have an incentive to live closer to work. That’s what dense living in a travel oriented city is about: encourage riders to live closer to their work so they pay less in transit costs.

  6. Er, back on topic about FlyAway, I just wanted to add one more voice suggesting that the La Cienega station seems a much better choice than La Brea…

  7. @Sarcastic Angeleno

    Not to sound like a complete right winger, but every system has it’s inequalities. People purporting that “their” idea is the most logical or fair or must help those who (….choose from a very long list…….) have an extremely high threshold to pass the smell test.

    This is about moving people from point A to point B and reducing vehicle traffic, NOT a grand scheme in social engineering to favor whichever group you choose.

    I am sorry that you don’t like the present system but it is logical and very easy to understand. And @Eric P. Scott first paragraph certainly makes sense so maybe he touched a nerve. Just because other countries do something doesn’t automatically mean that the USA must, right? because we know how egalitarian the rest of the world is! And how queue’s will save us all. As Big Brother watches on…..

  8. in the valley,

    It maybe easy to understand from the perspective of those who have ridden Metro for a lot of years, but the “pay per boarding” concept is an oddity from those who haven’t and especially with tourists.

    In the end, our current fare structure has its flaws that is far from an equitable system. Someone gets punished and under existing fare structures, it’s the short distance rider who make transfers who ends up paying more than the rider who manages to travel over 20 miles on a single bus or train.

    There needs to be a study done which correlates where people live and work and what their incomes are. All these years, we just assumed “poor people live in East LA and commute to doing housecleaning work in Beverly Hills.” But there has never been a study to back this claim up.

    Instead, what we have the exact opposite. White collar residents in the SFV who enjoy living in big homes, benefit by having a $1.50 ride into DTLA because they’re lucky to have a single rail line to DTLA, while those who are struggling and continue to live in apartments within LA, fork up more per mile to commute over shorter distances and multiple transfers. I don’t consider this to be fair at all.

    LA has more residential density in the urban core. We have more people living in apartments than in single homes. Many of these apartment dwellers have jobs nearby. They work in supermarkets, they work at car repair shops, they work at factories, pharmacies, and restaurants.

    So why should a white collar job worker who is able to afford a big home in the valley and has a job working for a law firm in DTLA be rewarded with $1.50 ride all the way from SFV to DTLA, while a low-income resident living in Compton be punished to pay the same $1.50 only to travel two stations away to work in a meat packing plant? It doesn’t take much who is really getting the short end of the stick of paying $75 in monthly passes.

    LA is too big to have a single flat rate system. We cannot continue to run a system like this forever. We need to look at fare reform.

  9. I think distance based fares leading to creating “class divisions” is stretching it.

    For one, we don’t have statistics of how many low-income people travel how far to work.

    The more realistic view is that the current fare structure only benefits those who are able to afford homes in the SFV and commute into DTLA, but totally misses out on the low-income residents who travel shorter distances to work, like those that live in Carson and have jobs at factories in Vernon, or those who live in Inglewood and have jobs at LAX.

    If you look at it that way, the existing flat rate fare structure already creates class divisions by benefiting the rich who are able to live in homes and able to enjoy a $1.50 ride all the way into DTLA, while those that can never own homes, lives in apartments in the urban city, pay more to get around shorter distances within the City of LA.

    Distance based fares will make things more equal by making those who travel shorter distances (usually low income who tend to have jobs nearby) pay less and those that can afford homes all the way out in the suburbs, to pay more.

  10. Eric,

    ““Distance-based” fares are a scam that prey on the ignorant.”

    I disagree. Flat rate fares are the real scam that prey on the ignorant.

    How do you make sense that under the current Metro fare structure, a person traveling 5 miles across two buses pay $3.00 as opposed to a person traveling 20 miles on one bus pay only $1.50?

    That’s like saying everyone should pay the same electric bill, whether it be the person living in a studio apartment to Google running thousands of servers in Silicon Valley.

    That’s like saying everyone should pay the same natural gas bill whether it be the person living in a studio apartment to a restaurant.

    Should everyone pay $50 for buying stuff at Ralphs whether they buy a box of cereal or a stick of gum? That’s what you are saying.

    Do you suggest Amtrak should be the same flat rate price whether one goes from LA to San Diego on the Pacific Surfliner and from LA to Chicago on the Southwest Chief? That’s what you are promoting.

    Electricity is a commodity. Gas is a commodity. Food is a commodity. Transit is a commodity. It should be on a rated system.

    “Flat-fare systems are simple, understandable, and create fewer problems overall.”

    And yet if they are easier, understandable, and create fewer problems, why are transit oriented cities like London, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore utilize them? Surely if it were “easier, understandable, and create fewer problems” they would be using flat rate fares when they have sooo much more people using mass transit daily that puts LA Metro to shame.

    So why does London, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore, all cities with the best mass transit systems in the world, one that are able to move MILLIONS of people everyday, and are profitable, using something so “confusing?” Surely they must have complaints from travelers abroad when they visit these cities and ride their transit systems? Or do they? Or is just simply:

    1. Load up money into contactless card
    2. Tap in
    3. ride
    4. Tap out

    Gee, people really need to have an IQ of 200 to figure that out.

    Next time, try visiting cities outside the US for a change. You know so little of the world. Conservative backward minded people like you hold back progress, just like how everyone ridicules us how we still use the imperial system or how we still have gun deaths.

  11. @Realist

    The present system is confusing?!?!?! Uh, thats Really Realistic. You hop on a bus or a train after paying the fare and get off. When you get on another bus, train, etc. you pay another fare or pay with a day, weekly, monthly pass etc. Very easily understood by everyone and has worked this way for Decades.

  12. WHY LaBrea?? and not LaqCienega??

    See Note Below From FlyAway regarding the future FlyAway service to the Expo Light Rail Line

    Our first choice for FlyAway connectivity between LAX and the Expo Light Rail Line was at the LaCienega Boulevard station.
    However, we require Metro’s permission to access their property, if only to pick up and drop off bus passengers.
    Metro denied our request at this location, stating concerns of the FlyAway taking valuable bus stop space and our FlyAway customers using parking intended for transit passengers.
    Metro suggested the La Brea station as an alternative.
    While it is not as attractive a location as the La Cienega station, it will be an opportunity to test ridership demand and may be a first stop on a future FlyAway service to the Hollywood area via LaBrea Avenue.

  13. 7th Street / Metro Center doesn’t have the available infrastructure for a FlyAway stop. There needs to be a loading zone for luggage. And this will just make the FlyAway less convenient for the Union Station passengers. I’ve never taken a FlyAway bus that passes through Downtown on city streets… it always takes the freeway to Union Station. This is the best location, with the large bus plaza for loading/unloading and connecting to transit in all directions.

  14. Sarcastic Angeleno: See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_flight if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology.

    You’re making the erroneous assumption that greater distances necessitate higher fares. They don’t; transit fare policy is whatever governing boards want it to be. In northern California, BART charges $8.25 for trips from SFO to downtown San Francisco, but only $4.30 from Millbrae, even though Millbrae is farther away (and some of the Millbrae runs make an intermediate stop at the airport). Even stranger, Fremont to Dublin/Pleasanton is priced at $4.45, but if you tag out at Bay Fair, then immediately tag back in, you’ll only pay $3.50 for the same trip. That’s a real-world implementation.

    “Distance-based” fares are a scam that prey on the ignorant. If your goal is to undermine transit, create class divisions, or you represent a private-sector vendor or government contractor trying to siphon off as much public money as possible, that’s your ticket. Flat-fare systems are simple, understandable, and create fewer problems overall. At the other extreme, fare-free operators (such as Island Transit in Washington state) completely eliminate the substantial overhead associated with fare collection — and provide for a faster, more efficient service.

    So, there’s what you want to do, what Title VI mandates you do, and what’s politically expedient. At the end of the day, you’ll either accept a compromise, or go home empty-handed.

    For the record, I would like to see Patsaouras Transit Plaza remain the sole downtown FlyAway stop. TAP? Sure, why not.

  15. Would love to see FlyAways from the Sierra Madre Villa Station, El Monte Station, and a couple of other locations like the Puente Hills mall.

  16. Back on topic, have we all forgotten the 102 which stops at the Expo/Western station? With 18 trips, this means that you get a Flyaway bus once an hour. So if you miss it you’re better off taking the 102 and the shuttle bus from LAX City Bus Center. Plus you save $4.50 – $5.50 this way. Flyaway is a nice convenience but if you are early, take the local bus to save some money.

  17. I’ll just mention that I’m excited about this. I’ve been dreaming of a service from Fairfax at Santa Monica, but this is a kick-ass start.

  18. in the valley,

    You either have it the way it is now where it’s totally confusing for people and has unfairness where people who travel 5 miles across two buses or trains pay more than the the people who travels 20 miles on one bus or train.

    Or we can scrap everything and make things more logical, pay more for longer rides, pay less for shorter distance rides.

    You pay more when you use more gas, you pay less when you use less gas. You pay more when you use more electricity, you pay less when you use less electricity. You pay more when you use more minutes, you pay less when you use less minutes. Public utilities run that way, mass transit should be no different.

  19. Fly-Away only takes cards, no cash. Thus, how hard can it be to be programmed to accept TAP for the Flyaway services?

  20. Eric,

    That’s like saying Amtrak should provide only one train that goes to San Diego and another train that only goes to Oceanside, and the passenger going to Oceanside should pay more than the one going to San Diego.

    Instead, the more logical idea is to have one train that stops at both Oceanside and continues onto San Diego as a final destination, with the passenger getting off at Oceanside paying less than the continuing passenger going to San Diego.

  21. Eric,

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using one plane to serve multiple destinations along the way either which is what people here have been saying. Qantas flies SYD-LAX-JFK. Yes, we are a transit stop and there are fliers who get off here and there those who continue on to New York.

    Why should there be two Flyaway buses to serve one to Union Station and the other to 7th/Metro? Why not one bus that drops off passengers who wishes to get off at 7th/Metro since it’s already along the way to Union Station?

  22. @ in the valley

    Distance based fare is a lot more logical than our current “ride” based fare. It cost $3.00 to go from Chinatown to Civic Center but $1.50 to go from the Valley to Metro Center. In what world is this fare system more logical than distance based fare? Or a true flat rate system where you pay once and ride as much as you want?

  23. @Sarcastic Angeleno

    You do realize that plenty of other cities don’t and they run smoothly. Actually the British like to complain about the Queue.

  24. Eric,

    No, it’s not a non-stop direct route, it’s a stop along the way.

    LAX-7th/Metro-Union Station on a single bus, just like Southwest Airlines going from LAX-PHX-ELP on a single 737.

    Passengers board Flyaway at LAX. They TAP in. Passengers can either get off at 7th/Metro along the way or at the end at Union Station. They TAP out. Those that get off at 7th/Metro pay less, those that get off at Union Station pay more.

    Same as Southwest. They board at LAX onto the 737. It makes a stop at PHX. Those that get off at PHX pay less than those that continue onto ELP.

    Seriously, do people here actually ever travelled to other cities around the world?

  25. in the valley,

    You do realize a lot of cities like London and Tokyo which has a lot more riders on their systems run perfectly fine and is able to move millions of people with TAP in/TAP out, without the doomsday scenario of queue here queue there that you envision, right?

  26. Sarcastic Angeleno: 7th St/Metro Ctr to LAX should cost passengers more than departing from Union Station, because it would be a nonstop service rather than a direct one. That’s airline logic! (e.g. April travel on UA 839/840: LAX-SYD RT = 14,974 miles for $1544, while LAX-MEL RT [via SYD] = 15,840 miles for $1526.)

  27. Union Station is downtown and perfectly suited for the Fly away and it is only a few minutes from 7th Street/Fig.

    Tap In – Tap Out is another name for Queue Here – Queue There, Queuing Everywhere! But seriously (but not really because Queuing aka standing in lines stinks) distance based fares will help some and hurt others same as the present system so it isn’t any more “logical”.

  28. James,

    Everyone wants an one-seat rail to somewhere and they want that because it only costs $1.50. Be realistic, it’s not going to happen. Our city is too big to have a single line taking us anywhere we want for $1.50.

  29. I agree with Irwin that there has to be a stop at 7th/Metro for FlyAway.

    This is another good reason why we need to ditch flat rate and go to TAP-in/TAP-out distance based fares even for buses. If you take FlyAway and get off at 7th/Metro, you TAP-out when disembarking the bus and you pay cheaper than those getting off at Union Station.

    Why can’t we have something logical like this?

  30. Should Be at La Cienega/Jefferson as there is plenty bus parking and layover Room witch La Brea Station dose not offer this service need to be re thought as to witch station that should be serviced

  31. at last, a good idea! A flyaway for those of us “too close” for flyaway service. THANK YOU!!!!!

  32. I think this new Expo FlyAway will be faster to LAX from the Financial District than the Union Station FlyAway. I always thought it was strange that Downtown FlyAway goes to Union Station without stopping at 7th Street Metro Center, even though most of the time, the bus pass right by it.