Connecting Metro Rail to Los Angeles International Airport: here is a look at issues currently on the table

With the Crenshaw/LAX Line getting closer to construction in 2014, I wanted to address a specific issue involving the project: how the Metro Rail system will eventually connect to the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

I also wanted to address a related notion floating around in the buzz-o-sphere that the Crenshaw/LAX Line should be delayed and redesigned to travel closer to the airport.

I’ve broken up the post into three sections to make it digestible because, quite frankly, some of it is unavoidably wonky and bureaucratic. I know there are many people interested in the question of running trains all the way to the airport terminals; please see the last section of this post.

THE BASICS

140207_map_project_crenshawlax_eng

The Crenshaw/LAX Line is a light rail project that will run for 8.5 miles between the Expo Line and the Green Line, as the map shows. The project includes an elevated station at the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards, about 1.3 miles east of Terminal 1 at LAX. The new station is a bit closer to terminals than the Green Line’s Aviation station (at Imperial Highway), which is two miles from Terminal 1.

The Airport Metro Connector is in the planning stages and will connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Green Line to the airport terminals via either a light rail line or an automated people mover (APM) — or a combination of those. Funding will likely come from both Metro and Los Angeles World Airports, the city of L.A. agency that runs LAX. Here are the six alternatives under study (larger versions of each are at the end of this post):

130901 Alternatives Large Maps

Click above to see larger.

The main issue that everyone needs to understand: The Crenshaw/LAX Line has a station on the western side of Aviation at Century. It is environmentally cleared and set to be built.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles World Airports has recommended building a people mover station on the east side of the intersection of Aviation and 98th. An elevated block-long walkway would connect the light rail station and the people mover, requiring a trip up and down stairs or an elevator trip for those transferring (rendering below).

staff recommendation for spas.

Source: Los Angeles World Airports.

Source: Los Angeles World Airports.

Los Angeles World Airports has also proposed two other locations where light rail stations could be built for a more direct transfer to the people mover (see below). One is on 98th Street between Sepulveda and Aviation boulevards at the airport’s proposed Intermodal Transportation Facility (known as the ‘ITF’), a hub the airport says that would include buses, light rail and the people mover and include remote check-in and a commercial component. The other possible station location is underground near the entrance to horseshoe road that serves the airport’s terminals.

Metro Map

Source: Los Angeles World Airports.

All three potential light rail station locations have something in common: people using light rail to reach the airport would still have to transfer to a people mover to get to the terminals. Airport officials say that the people mover may include secure vehicles to carry those who have already checked in at the ITF and non-secure vehicles for those who still must check-in at the existing terminal areas.

The dilemma for Metro is that reaching any of three proposed locations for light rail at the airport requires moving the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the west or building a rail spur from the Crenshaw/LAX Line. Moving the Crenshaw/LAX Line would cost a minimum of $600 million, according to Metro. That is much more than the $200 million Measure R has allocated for the Airport Connector project. Funding for filling that gap would have to be found — no easy task — and the airport has not yet committed to any amount of funding.

In addition, moving the Crenshaw/LAX Line would, at best, cause major delays to the project (it is currently forecast to be completed in 2019). Delays could in turn risk funding for the project.

There is another problem. The airport has yet to give the final green light to the people mover project while litigation over a proposal by LAX to move its north runway further north is resolved. Metro, of course, does not want to move the Crenshaw/LAX Line or build a rail spur with no guarantee at this time that the people mover or any other facility will be built.

PROJECT HISTORY

In order to understand how we’ve reached this point, it helps to understand the history of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Airport Metro Connector and LAWA’s modernization plans for the airport. In chronological order:

•Metro and its predecessor agencies in Los Angeles County first studied a north-south transit line that would focus on serving the area along or near Crenshaw Boulevard in 1967 as part of a regional transit plan. Over the years, some of the studies have included direct transit connections to the airport. Others have not. Here’s a good history of the studies.

•In the early 1990s, Metro had an approved environmental study to connect the Green Line to LAX. Due to an inability to receive approval from LAWA or the Federal Aviation Administration for the line, funds were moved to other projects and the connection was never built.

•In 2001, Los Angeles World Airports released a draft of the second phase of its Master Plan that included two people movers to connect the airport terminals and other existing and planned airport facilities. One people mover was planned to go east along Century Boulevard (which connects the 405 freeway to the airport) and another would have traveled south to the Green Line.

013_MainDocument_Ch_2.04

The second phase of the Master Plan was challenged in court by several groups — including nearby homeowners. In 2006 the airport settled and agreed that with further study it could pursue some elements from the Master Plan, including the people mover. Those would be studied as part of a Specific Plan Amendment Study, known as SPAS.

•In 2007, the studies for the Crenshaw project began. The following year, voters in Los Angeles County approved the half-cent sales tax increase known as Measure R. The spending plan for Measure R included $1.7 billion for the Crenshaw project and another $200 million for a Green Line Extension to the airport, a project that was later renamed the Airport Metro Connector.

•In 2011, the Metro Board of Directors gave their final approval of the route Crenshaw/LAX Line, including a station at Century and Aviation. No city or airport officials protested or testified against the route along Aviation Boulevard during the previous four years of study, which included several Board votes on alternatives and routes.

•Formal studies for the Airport Metro Connector began in 2010 in consultation with Los Angeles World Airports. An Alternatives Analysis (AA) was completed in April 2012. The AA proposed six alternatives shown above that should be studied more extensively in a draft environmental impact report.

•In Dec. 2012, Los Angeles World Airports released its staff recommendation for its Specific Plan Amendment Study (known as SPAS) on projects from the old master plan it wanted to pursue. LAWA staff recommended building a single people mover that would travel along 98th Street, stop at the ITF and then continue to a people mover station to connect to Metro’s station at Aviation and Century and, ultimately, to Manchester Square.

GOING FORWARD

The Metro Board of Directors approved the contract to build the Crenshaw/LAX Line in June. In early September, the agency gave the go-ahead to its contractor to begin design/build work with the expectation that heavy construction will begin in 2014.

The Airport Metro Connector project, meanwhile, has begun work on the project’s initial planning and is waiting to begin its draft environmental impact study. Metro staff is working to understand performance characteristics and estimate ridership and costs for each of the six alternatives under study. Some preliminary results will be presented to the Metro Board of Directors this month. Work will continue through 2014.

It remains to be seen whether alternatives that would bring light rail all the way to the airport terminals via tunnels are economically and politically viable and whether LAWA wants Metro to pursue them.

Metro would need LAWA’s permission to build anything on, above or below airport property. At a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting on Wednesday, airport officials said bringing light rail into the terminal area was challenging for several reasons: security, lack of customer baggage racks in light rail vehicles, trains couldn’t run more often than every five minutes (versus 90 seconds to 120 seconds for a people mover), tunneling near or under terminals was risky and building rail above ground would be difficult because of existing structures. 

Metro officials continue to work with LAWA’s planning staff. The Airport Metro Connector is scheduled to be complete in 2028 in Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan, although the Metro Board of Directors have expressed a desire to advance that date, if possible. Funding will be a factor; in most cases in the U.S., airports contribute to the cost of connecting to rail lines. See Attachment A of this report.

Obviously this is a big issue for our region. As one business official said at the Council committee meeting on Wednesday, a transit station at LAX will be heavily scrutinized. That’s absolutely right. And it remains clear some big decisions remain ahead.

Here are larger versions of the six alternatives under study by Metro:

130813 Alt A

130813 Alt B

130813 Alt C1

130813 Alt C2

130813 Alt C3

130813 Alt C4

62 replies

  1. There some better options and I have submitted other options. My idea is a modification of C3 that allows the green to north northwest towards Playa del Rey and on to Santa Monica. Where can ideas be sent to ?

  2. The automated people movers at Atlanta and Dallas airports are excellent. I hope LAX does something like that.

  3. It just blows me away that LAWA is so difficult to work with of something that should have been constructed and up and running decades ago. It seems to me at least that Metro could have some dedicated trains on the Green and Crenshaw Lines that have luggage racks like Amtrak that run to LAX. Why LAWA insist on having a people mover and make people change trains again is beyond belief and why can’t there be a transferring point that come together instead of making people walk so far. The concepts that people in the LA Area have for public transportation is beyond belief and extremely inconvenient.

  4. a lot of cities have implemented a shuttle train to move people around an airport and connect them to the existing regional rail system. LA has an opportunity to have such a system within 1.3 miles of the Crenshaw Line. As much as I would like a direct rail link into LAX, it’s very cost prohibitive and not necessary. the people mover would operate at shorter intervals and meet up with a Metro Rail train that although not as frequent, won’t be too long a wait at 12-15 mins. I recently travelled to Philadelphia which does have a direct rail connection to their airport, but it only operates every 30 mins, and to be honest it didn’t seem like that long of a wait. Plus, the cost of taking the train is significantly less than a taxi and much faster than a bus. It’s a no brainer.

  5. I note there is not one word about the original Greed Line plan to enter the airport. The junction was built but the line was never completed. As I recall the Green Line was sold to the public as a light rail line into the airport Not only did the Century Freeway (105) miss it’s mark going to the airport but so did the Green Line.

  6. Thanks for the enlightening post. The failure for Metro trains to directly reach the airport is a failure of leadership for both Metro and the LAWA – the failure seems rooted almost entirely in LA city hall – and demonstrates bureaucratic bungling at its finest.
    Really, why wasn’t an LAX station in the airport planned or accounted for in Metro’s eir/eis and designs for the Crenshaw line and why did Metro green light the project without the LA mayor pushing LAWA to get it done. After all, he appoints all members of the LAWA board, since it is a city department, and he’s on the Metro board and has additional board appointees he can control, too.

  7. hi mark r.,

    I’ve read that the original Green Line plan as voted on included a Lincoln Blvd line that does roughly that, but that it never happened for reasons unclear to me. I think it sounds great, but I’m not a transit planner or civil engineer. Some more detail on the history of that decision would be pretty nice.

    The metro library includes this handy page: http://ebb.metro.net/about_us/library/mrtpcm.htm . This map http://ebb.metro.net/images/mrtpcm-15.jpg was apparently part of the voter materials for Prop A.

  8. I don’t think it’s a problem to require people to transfer to a people mover. I do think it’s a problem (A) if the transfer is inconvenient and (B) if it can only be done from the Crenshaw Line, which goes from nowhere to nowhere, or requires splitting the Green Line off into a spur. Why is the Alt. A people mover shaped the way it is? Why can’t it, say, turn, stop next to the Crenshaw Line station and run along the Crenshaw Line tracks to the current Aviation Green Line stop?

  9. Some of these plans are SO stupid. The people-mover concept is simply ridiculous. The Green line is practically at the airport already, and they’ve already go the go-ahead to start building the Crenshaw line… JUST EXTEND THE DAMN THING TO THE TERMINALS!!! Make it actually USEFUL to residents and tourists, and worthy of a city of LA’s size. Fer Pete’s sake…

  10. Mike Dunn & others – the Green Line spur to the airport was scuttled basically because the planners did not talk to the engineers. Metro’s LRT uses an overhead power system. The location of the railroad right of way at the east end of runways 25R&L would put the overhead system too close to the approach glidepath and so the FAA and LAWA requires that the line in that area be below grade. This expense was not in the Green Line’s budget. If you look carefully at the Crenshaw/LAX map (http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/crenshaw/images/140207_map_project_crenshawlax_eng.pdf) you’ll see the new line will be below grade in a trench box in that area (it will also include concrete slab covers alligned with the runways to prevent a “short approach” from ending up in the rail trench.)

    There is also a 2000 pound elephant in this room that no one wants to discuss, namely: parking revenues for LAWA. I have never tried to find LAWA’s financial reports, but I have been party to conversations that indicate LAWA receives significant revenue from parking fees – thus it is not in LAWA’s financial interest to promote either parking offsite or alternate means of transportation to the airport. I would suspect that ultimately LAWA will support such transportation, but only after their internal studies show that due to increased passenger traffic levels, the alternate transportation means will not significantly impact parking revenues. I don’t have any facts to back this up, but it seems logical and resonable to me, after all, LAWA is operated as a for profit business, so they’re not going to kill a golden goose.

  11. LAWA is a rather insular bureaucracy (even more so than LADOT). A staffer for then Mayor Villaraigosa told me once they keep hoping if they wait long enough the rest of us will lose interest and the technocrats can go back to making all the decisions sans public input like in the good old days. That world has passed and thankfully LAWA no longer talks of a busway as a viable option for interim access until “someday” rail can provide a link to the airport. People mover is OK although having a block long walk to get from light rail to PM would be a bit of a turnoff.

    JFK only fairly recently finally built a connection to the subway and LIRR via an elevated rail line. LaGuardia to this day has no direct connection to the subway. At least LA is finally making (albeit slow) progress to address airport access.

    As I have pointed out before a key aspect of this is it will allow airport employees to reach work without clogging streets with their autos. And today we have one airport with a rail link — Burbank (via Metrolink and Amtrak) — when high speed rail has a station adjacent to that airport it will become a de facto regional hub!

    http://www.burbankairport.com/parkingmap.html

  12. Dollars and $en$e……exactly, not to mention the taxi cab unions who also chipped in to not connecting LAX to the metro. These guys were the same jokers who are the reason why the Las Vegas strip does not connect with the LV International Airport….the taxi cab union squashed any kind of mass transit idea that would make sense to join the two.

  13. “As I have pointed out before a key aspect of this is it will allow airport employees to reach work without clogging streets with their autos.”

    If this Crenshaw Line boondoggle is built, why should i pay $3.00 ONE-WAY to go from Hawthorne/Lennox, transfer at Aviation/LAX to the Crenshaw Line, to the supposed station at Century/Aviation, then another transfer to this people mover? The travel distance is less than 5 miles, why should I have to pay $3.00 one-way for this burden when I can just drive without all this hassle?

    Tell me why should I have to choose that or the other alternative is to shell out $75 a month just to travel less than 5 miles from my home in Inglewood to LAX?

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m sure you’re going to say “but for $75 you can go anywhere as far as Pasadena.” I don’t need to go far all the way to Pasadena. All I care is getting from home to work for cheap. And I ain’t spending $75 a month or $3.00 one-way just to go from Inglewood to LAX.

    You want to convince me to take transit to go work at LAX, give us cheaper prices. I should not have to be forced to choose between $3.00 one-way or $75 a month for less than 5 miles of transit.

    • Inglewood Worker,

      I see your side of things about the current fare structure, but I do want to point out that employee parking at LAX isn’t free (for 90% of the employees, anyway), and then you’d still have to take a shuttle from the E Lot to the terminals…so there are a few other factors to consider. And not everyone may be as lucky as you to live so close to LAX (or only want to use Metro for work, could be more people will ride because now they can use it for various travel AND work!).

      Anyway, my two cents on this matter.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  14. I daresay that while I sympathize with “Inglewood Worker’s” comment above, the whole idea of creating this LAX transfer is not to benefit one person.
    I live near the airport too, and don’t relish the congestion. But long before I was an LA resident (20 years ago), I was a frequent visitor from NYC with no drivers license and no convenient way to get around LA. This is a world-class city, and visitors ought to be able to travel easily between LAX, Downtown, The beaches, Hollywood and Beverly Hills with ease… and spend their money!

    Additionally, I just want say that I have NO love for the taxi companies. I live practically walking distance to LAX, and right now my option is to pay $20 for a four-minute cab ride, thanks to the extra charges (and taxes) they collect from me when I fly in from out of town. I really resent that, considering LAX is in my backyard.

  15. Inglewood Worker,

    If you look at the maps, you’ll clearly see that all options have the Green Line extending at least as a branch to the Century/Aviation station. Therefore, there is no reason to transfer to the Crenshaw Line.

  16. Anna,

    “And not everyone may be as lucky as you to live so close to LAX”

    This baseless, factless judgment clearly illustrates how you guys at Metro are clearly out of touch with the majority of blue collar workers who work at LAX.

    Do you think we baggage handlers, TSA, the minimum wage burger flippers at McDonald’s, the cashiers at the the stores inside LAX, the airplane mechanics, taxi drivers, car rental shuttle drivers, hotel staff, janitors, all live all the way out in big multi-million dollar mansions out in the valley, drive Mercedes and BMWs and drive 20 mile commutes in $3.80/gal prices on the 405 to get to work at LAX?

    The vast majority of us blue collar workers at LAX do not live in the Valley, drive a Mercedes Benz and have wages to feed their kids and a mortgage for less a blue collar job as a baggage handler at LAX.

    Majority of blue collar workers in LAX, who also make up the most of the people employed at LAX, live in the apartments in Hawthorne, Lennox, Inglewood. We’re the ones driving in the poorly maintained pot hole ridden streets on Century Blvd. on our way to work. Yeah, “lucky” enough indeed to work closeby in the ghetto and be forced to choose between $3.00 one way or $75 a month for 5 miles of transit to LAX.

    Clearly, you’re the one who needs to open up your mind to “think of other factors.”

    Tell me, why should majority of the blue collar workers at LAX, the largest group who work at LAX, most of which whom “luckily” live in the ghetto nearby, have to subsidize the fares for those rich people who live way out in the valley who can clearly afford higher fares for traveling farther?

  17. An APM brings certain advantages, but any scheme that does not include a simple cross-platform or single-escalator-up/down connection (think Wilshire/Vermont) to Metro would be a complete and total fail.

  18. By the time the LAX connector is operational there will be fare restructuring anyway; the current fare structure is acknowledged by almost everyone to be far from ideal. The reason LAWA purchased Park One at Skyway and World Way was supposed to be for a terminus of a rail line. Although running and in and out spur a la BART to SFO is not ideal, it does provide opportunities to extend it further up Lincoln Boulevard to Playa Vista and Venice, as has been proposed in some strategic plans.

    The one thing LAWA could do now, to make LAX more reasonable to access via transit, is to run more G shuttles. Currently, at night when a lot of flights arrive, they run every 20-30 minutes (one bus) which is entirely unreasonable. The G shuttle needs to operate every 10 minutes during all hours the Green Line operates, like the C shuttle. In fact, sometimes I will walk over to Sepulveda/Century to catch a local bus to go to the Green Line, especially coming from Terminal 1. It is faster than waiting for the stupid shuttle.

  19. The point is Anna,

    Metro shouldn’t be wasting money on this boondoggle if it’s meant to help alleviate traffic for workers to LAX as you say it will. Just be truthful about it. It’s not going to be built for us, it’s for the rich white collar types who work in Downtown to get to LAX for cheap.

    Because once you start telling lies that it’s for us, we’re going to back off. Because in our view, we’d rather see the money being spent to repave the roads near LAX instead.

    Have you seen the poor shape of the roads near LAX as of lately? It’s horrible thanks to all the taxpayer money sucked away to this boondoggle. And it’s not like there’s even construction going on for this Crenshaw Line, all the money is being wasted in stupid meetings and studies. Repaving Century Blvd. takes a day at way less taxpayer dollars than trying to building a train which is taking forever.

    Fix the condition of the roads near LAX first. Especially Century Blvd east of the 405 and Aviation Blvd. between Imperial and Manchester. It’s in bad shape right now and nothing is being done about it. You can build your beloved choo-choo train, we don’t care because we know it’s not going to be built for us.

    But you do that after you secure part of the Metro funds for this Crenshaw Line boondoggle to get the roads fixed which are in bad shape today and is being used today by a large number of blue collar workers who work at LAX and live “luckily in the ghetto.”

    • Inglewood Worker,

      Your POV is noted. But I’d appreciate you do not put words in my mouth. I have at no point used the word “ghetto” in my comments. While I have worked at LAX in the past, I’m not familiar with the surrounding neighborhoods as I commuted about 40 miles to get to work. I consider living close to work one of my personal top priorities, and I think anyone who can live less than 5 miles from their place of work is lucky. That’s all.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  20. I heard a long time ago it was the parking lobby that stopped the LAX extension of the Green Line into the airport. It seems there is a lot of thought about LAX employees having a alternative to driving their cars to work there but little concerning travelers. Los Angeles is supposed to be a international city yet we don’t see or even planned a seamless rail line into the airport. Number one, the Green Line should go into the airport and service each terminal. Be it in a trench or elevated over the lower roadway, Number two, some Blue Line Trains should be redirected at the Imperial Station on to Green Line tracks providing service from Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach to travelers as a alternative to private or rental autos, taxies and share vans.

    Concerning the planned Crenshaw Line. It should be extended north to Hollywood perhaps north from Wilshire along the former right of way in the middle of Highland Ave. At the south terminal at LAX it should connect and join the Green Line trains into the airport thereby providing seamless service from the Hollywood area south. As planned right now it only seems like a political bone to appease the voters in the Crenshaw/MLK area.

    We had a great, the largest, public rail transit system in the nation and the last remaining segments of it were removed by the old MTA in the early sixties. The last old Pacific Electric Line to Long Beach being one of them. It ran over the same right of way that the current Blue Line operates on and it only took Henry Huntington six months to build it double tracked. Not only is planning taking to long now but also construction. Where faster and more efficient methods should be utilized today we see the same projects taking six times as long to construct.

  21. It was cited that rail was just connected at JFK. Here in California, San Francisco, Bart has been connected to their airport for years. There is no reason other than procrastination why we don’t have rail service into our international airport. It’s time to start construction now and provide seamless rail service from downtown Los Angeles and other major destinations into LAX.

  22. A friend of mine used to be in engineering at LAWA, and he told me that, in the 90’s, LAWA begged Metro (or Metro’s predecessor) for sufficiently detailed plans to be submitted to the FAA for approval – such plans were never received, so it wasn’t possible for them to be approved.

    • I see some of my comments doen’t seem to appear in this thread. Could it be that they suggest alternatives that might spark further debat and less, oh, gee, when.

  23. mike dunn,

    And Henry Huntington didn’t have to deal with environmental and safety laws, over-the-top government regulation, fault line research, bureaucratic red tape, dumb local politicians, inefficient government workers, voter input on how taxpayer dollars get used, appeasement to NIMBYs, buying and demolishing existing land and buildings either.

    LA was a different land back in Henry Huntington’s era. LA was very conservative with limited government, people were free to do whatever they want without government oversight, there were far fewer people living in LA, almost everything was open land so there were no NIMBYs nor the need to buy or demolish existing structures, and Henry Huntington built them using his own money instead of tax dollars.

    When Henry Huntington said he wants a rail line, work got started the next day.

    When Metro does it today in 2013, there is no boss. We, the taxpayer are the boss and the money is the taxpayers’ money. Even if you like it, a taxpayer in another part of this county may not like it (i.e. Beverly Hills for example). In 2013, we have wage laws, we have environmental laws, safety laws, Americans with Disability Act, etc. etc. all of which must be adhered to. We have all these buildings that were made that in order to expand, need to be bought out and demolished.

    Get over with the “it used to be easier back then” mantra. We’re not living in the old ages. We’re living in 2013 and it’s a whole different playing field than Henry Huntington’s era.

  24. Being that LAWA really wants the People Mover the best possible solution would be for passengers to directly transfer from the light rail to the People Mover. A block long walk won’t get it. I would think the CUSTOMERS would like to take a few steps from one line to the other especially when travelling.

  25. If a rail connection to LAX is intended to serve the highest number of passengers, it must run between at least one of our many city centers in this polynodal region. As it is right now, all of the alternatives fail to do this DIRECTLY. While I am one of those people who will sacrifice time in order to ride transit, I certainly will not do this when there is an airline flight involved at the end of my local transit journey. If you are coming from downtown, Pasadena, North Hollywood, or even as close as Expo Park, you would need to make at least one if not more transfers BEFORE you get to the automated people mover. This will be a great barrier to using rail to get to LAX. A Green Line expansion north towards Venice/Santa Monica would address some of these concerns, but then we are still left with most of the other major activity centers not being easily connected by transit to the airport. I generally loathe comparisons between LA and other world-class cities since LA doesn’t follow the old-world paradigm, but it should be possible to get a direct rail connection to at least one activity center. Going to downtown, which is quickly emerging in importance as a center, should not involve transferring from Red to Expo to Crenshaw to APM; this provides no advantage over using the FlyAway from LAUS. In this regard, would it be possible to involve the resources of another agency, specifically Metrolink, to run express trains between the airport and downtown? Has this possibility been studied?

  26. NR,

    Open up Google Maps and see what logistic nightmare will be involved to run a train track directly from LAX to Downtown LA.

    What are you going to do with all the pre-existing homes and businesses along the way? Tell them to move away because big brother is out to roll train tracks through here? Yeah right.

    We aren’t Communist China where big brother government can draw a red line through a map and just demolish everything in its path in the name of progress. Our Constitution has this thing called the Fifth Amendment where it says “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    And in case you haven’t noticed, real estate prices in LA is very expensive. People, especially residents and business owners are not going to move away for free just because big brother wants a train track.

    Just compensation to take away private property for public use is going to get really expensive here in LA. Whose going to pay for that? Taxpayers? Good luck with that. We can’t even get to agree among our own county to get things done.

  27. They’ve studied using the Harbor Subdivision for Metrolink from Union Station to LAX. The problem with the Harbor Sub is that it is narrow, much of it is single track, and running at 55 mph speed alongside Slauson Avenue will be a civil rights and safety issue, much like how the Blue Line is an issue. So you will be running commuter trains at 40 mph or less through South Central, plus all the junctions and stuff, and the station will be alongside Aviation so you have to transfer to a bus. Therefore the Harbor Subdivision commuter rail idea was scrapped.

  28. Wow, I think this is the most “exciting” comment thread I’ve ever seen here.

    Anyway, Mike Dunn, I fly into SFO frequently, and from my perspective (usually going down the peninsula) the BART extension is a total boondoggle. I wish they’d extended the people mover to Millbrae instead, which would have allowed convenient access to both BART and Caltrain.

  29. I’ve long advocated a single-seat all-rail connection (replacing the Flyaway Bus) between Union Station and LAX, with luggage-friendly rolling stock, specifically because it would encourage more integration between air and rail transportation. Likewise, a single-seat all-rail connection between LAX and Downtown would encourage visitors to take Metro instead of renting a vehicle.

    With the first end in mind, the ideal, of course, would be for intercity passenger trains to serve an airport directly. The next best thing (serving both ends equally well) would be a single-seat trolley, el, or subway connection (such as the Seattle Central Link, which serves Sea-Tac directly, and has a stop within easy walking distance of King St. Station). Next would be the situation that exists in Washington, DC (the WMATA Blue and Yellow Lines serve Ronald Reagan National Airport directly; I used that station myself, less than a week ago, at the conclusion of my Fall vacation; travel between Union Station and Reagan is a 2-seat trip), followed by Boston (the “T” Blue Line serves Logan Airport directly, as a regular stop on the terminal circulator bus, with very luggage-friendly rolling stock, although travel between Logan and any of Boston’s three railroad stations is a 3-seat trip).

    If the Downtown Regional Connector puts Union Station on the Blue Line, then a combination of Blue and Green would provide a better air/rail connection (one seat fewer) than the combination of Red/Purple/Blue, Expo/East, and a disconnected Crenshaw (requiring transfers at each end) would.

  30. “We aren’t Communist China where big brother government can draw a red line through a map and just demolish everything in its path in the name of progress”

    In many ways, we’re already are. We just gave drivers licenses to illegal aliens, have the harshest gun laws short of banning them, police brutality is on the rise, taxes and environmental laws are so high that businesses and job creators are driven out to other states, and because of that we have so many people on welfare that California is a defacto communist state. And now burger flippers are demanding wages of $15 an hour.

    Why not just break of from the rest of the US, just declare our independence from the union and go all the way to establish a new Communist country? People’s Republic of California.

    Seize all private land and property for the good of the state. Disband unions, reverse all safety and environmental laws and make everyone work for the state with slave labor wages. Everyone will address each other as “comrade” and anyone who disagrees with the state will go to re-eduction camps as a capitalist extremist. Only government leaders, military and secret police will be allowed to have guns. We will all hail our government leaders without questioning their authority no matter what injustice there is.

    By the way, if you haven’t noticed I’m being sarcastic.

    • I don’t believe there are any taxie drivers in a union today. The majority are leased or owned cabs operating under authority of taxie francises.

  31. When I look at Google Maps, in the spot where the plan calls for a “Consolidated Rent-A-Car and Parking facility at Manchester Square” and a potential Metro Rail/APM station, (there are homes, apartments and even a school there. Using Google Street View, there are clearly people living there so it’s not like these apartments and homes are empty.

    Who is going to pay for the relocation costs for the people living there? You can’t just say to these people to move away because government is coming to take away their homes so that they’re building a new rent-a-car facility and a train station here. Relocating costs and demolishing all those homes, apartments, and schools is going to be very costly.

    Has there been a study done by LAWA and Metro on how many people live in that Manchester Square area and how much it’s going the taxpayers to move all those people out and find them a new home elsewhere? Or is this one of those “let’s figure it out later” things that come and bite them with huge cost overruns which they don’t care because it’s taxpayer money?

  32. Many employers subsidize the cost of a Metro 30 day pass. Mine does. Maybe LAX employers should be pressured to do so. And is $75 per month really excessive versus all the cost and expense of operating an auto?

  33. Once a rail line is approved usually there are no buildings that must be demolished since the MTA is using old right of way that sits empty or has some trees. It doesn’t take years for railroads to lay new rail. I think BNSF double tracked about five miles in Cajon Pass in three months recently. Henry Huntington did not use just one crew but several to build the Long Beach line unlike as to what we see today. It’s not unsafe to be efficient, it’s the lack of practical experience that is the problem.

    I have seen on the bus side new terminals being constructed to replace old ones that are harder to negotiate, have inadequate space for all the buses scheduled into them and lastly in at least one new terminal 45 foot buses are banned due to insufficient space to maneuver the buses in and out. On top of that terminals like the one at Pico/ Rimpau is not customer friendly. With the old terminal the passengers were protected from both rain and the hot sun because it had a canopy over the entire passenger area, now there is little protection. There is insufficient parking stalls for all the buses from both the MTA and Santa Monica Big Blue Bus which creates back-ups in the entrance roadway. And if there is a break down the whole terminal is shut down until the break down is cleared.

  34. i’ll say this much, i’m glad people are finally getting more interested in public transportation and issues that affect the city. clearly, there is a lot that the public doesn’t understand in terms of the process involved in building these types of projects. there’s a lot of distrust, sometimes due to past actions taken by the city, and sometimes due to a lack of information. If Metro truly wants to be first-class transit system, they need to do a better job of educating the general public. although Measure J barely missed its mark, you have to wonder if Metro could have done more to educate the public about the benefits of public transportation. it’s similar to our dysfunctional government in DC. the less people are informed, the more they are willing to believe the hype and hysteria. to Metro i say this. be bold, be unafraid to challenge Angelenos perception of transit. dedicate more resources to educate a car-culture city like LA into thinking outside the box. I really hope this project does a lot of good and improves the lives of ALL angelenos.

  35. Could the Century/Aviation station be designed so the platform could be rebuilt at Aviation/98th if and when the people mover is built ? This would save the 1 block walk for transfers. At this stage the main design requirement would be that tracks are built far enough apart to build a platform between them from the Century Aviation station to the Aviation/98th intersection.

  36. Why don’t we have a direct Metro Rail Connection to LAX Los Angeles International Airport Terminals 1-7?? This project is Long over due!! The buses are slow at the LAX City bus center…

    Metro must build a RAPID Heavy Rail North-South line alongside the 405 freeway from the Valley to LAX Terminals 1-7!! Metro MTA Failed to connect the Green Line to LAX Terminals in 1995 almost 20 years ago! We need better Public Transport here in LA in order to get to LAX in a safe, efficient, fast, comfortable, clean train cars, on-time, and civilized manner rather than sitting in traffic on the 405 Freeway!

    If other cities around the world and America such as San Francisco BART, Seattle Sound Transit, New York NYCMTA, Boston T, Atlanta Express, London Picadilly Line to Heathrow Airport Terminals 1,2,3 and 5, Tokyo/Narita Express, Shanghai Pudong High Speed Train to city, Hong Kong Metro, LA certainly deserves better when it comes to Public Transport and a DIRECT METRO LINK TO LAX AIRPORT!!

  37. Lance Mako Linden,

    You can’t really put Tokyo and Hong Kong on the same page as poorly run US taxpayer funded transit agencies.

    Asia runs their mass transit system as a for-profit enterprise, a publicly listed corporation listed on their stock exchanges. In Asia, private investors are free to buy, sell, and trade mass transit corporation stocks and their board of directors are responsible to make shareholders happy (show me the money).

    The two train companies that serve Tokyo Narita are JR East which runs the Narita Express and the Keisei Corporation which runs Skyliner. Both are for-profit corporations which diversify their business to retail, real estate and other for-profit ventures to keep their transit systems running.

    JR East Corporation
    http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/9020:JP

    Keisei Corporation
    http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/9009:JP

    Same with HKMRT. HKMRT is a fully listed company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, it’s run purely for profit with an astonishing 185% fare box recovery ratio, and they too make additional money and revenue through real estate ventures.

    HKMTR Corporation
    http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/66:HK

    They can do whatever they want because they have the money from private investors and they actually make tremendous profit to build and operate rail lines. They don’t have to deal with NIMBYism and negotiations to buy adjacent real estate. They are the realtors themselves, they make their own money with not a single dime of taxpayer money. They are free to just buy out any existing homes and businesses in the way and build, build, and build.

    We don’t have that here. Metro, nor any US transit agency are not a private companies and it has no plans to do so. They do not list themselves in any stock exchange. They are 100% taxpayer funded government agencies that relies on local, state, and federal tax dollars and municipal bond sales to keep them on life support because Americans are too stupid to figure out how to run mass transit for profit when the Asians can figure out a way how to do so and they’ve been doing so for decades.

  38. After years of reviewing this situation, I lean towards a people mover into LAX from the Aviation/Century Station, and into the consolidated rental car area. Future money for light rail needs to be applied to extending the Green Line north into Westchester and then north to Playa Vista, Venice and Santa Monica.
    However, it is completely wrong to force LAX transit riders to negotiate stairs or use an elevator to transfer between the light rail and people mover. This would just perpetuate the past stupid and short sighted practices which prevented getting rail into LAX when the opportunities were open in the past.
    Since the tracks of the light rails and the people mover must be separated, some kind of pedestrian friendly ramp must be used by the riders when transferring between the two. The stairs are a non-starter and must be eliminated in the discussions. Surely, this can be planned and executed in functional and aesthetically pleasing ways.
    As for the overhead catenary lines from light rails interfering with airport operations, I don’t buy it. At the Portland, Or, airport a light rail, MAX, goes directly into the airport. While waiting to board a plane there I stood on the tarmac and between the plane next to me which I was about to board and the airport control tower ran the light rail, with its overhead catenary lines in plain view. The Portland airport continued to function that day, I boarded my flight and flew out safely, and has continued to operate without catastrophe from disturbances from the overhead catenary lines.

  39. This is as exciting as the lead up to Measure R and the begining of Expo. Its hard to believe Ive been visiting this blog since it was still a small feature in the L.A times traffic section. Steve, thank you and congrats for your hard work and everyone else that contributes to The Source. Now, about LAX and its connection, and my input. I attended El Segundo High, and was a rider of the 439 when it still went all the way to Redondo Beach. It was pretty nice since you at least got to LAX transit center, and then the Freeway shortly after that. Ive also mentioned in the past, and someone has in this forum, that walking to Sepulveda for a 232 or 117, is not too much a hassle. From Century and Sepulveda, one can reach hotels and Mariposa Station in about five to ten minutes, there are also the Torrance and Blue Buses that reach the greenline within about the same time frame, yet the BBB hits aviation station, and the Torrance Mariposa station. My choice after along flight would definitely be the underused mariposa station. But im thinking in terms of what we have now. In 2005 after I touched down from a trip to Peru, I walked to the 6, and took that bus home; id lived in Mar Vista at the time. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely could been better.

    Now for the future: The chances of El Segundo seeing any tunneling or additional stations in the area seems slim to none. What I recognize is aerospace property be acquired t build another station. I know the residents very well, and they can be the Nimbiest of Nimbys, and im talking young ones too, so that, seems like a long shot. Tunneling into the terminal also seems impossible, considering Century got a pretty nice face lift within the last ten years (Think light sabers in center dividers). I do agree with the ITF option to check in remotely, the transit hub on 98th is a thirsty mess, and has such little connectivity, yet would not only be a good place for aiport customers, but some of the Playa/Westchester/Southbay area in general to reach DTLA, and other destinations quickly.

    I too have to ask myself, why the new International terminal wasn’t just moved east? Maybe it was too expensive? But United, Asia Air, and a few other should have maybe been relocated, and the international terminal put closer to Century and Aviation stations. To me, that would seem like a much long range plan. I will ope day upload my version of what I think L.A.s transit should be like, and I also think MTA should run a contest for fun. They could probably learn something. Im glad to see this idea really brewing though. L.A may actually be a more awesome place within my life time.

  40. BTW, How is it that NO RAPID Buses go to LAX? That is shameful. Its sometimes 45 minutes on a 117 from Crenshaw to LAX. FOR SHAME METRO!

  41. Every time I look at the numbers, these options won’t make much of a difference for LAX traffic. A 3-car light rail train carries about 400 people, right? That’s with lots of people standing and no luggage. And in the best case, they might be able to get about one trail every 6 minutes throught the system.

    A single 747 jet carries that many passengers. Given absolutely full trains, what percentage of LAX traffic could get packed into this system?

    Cities with good rail connections– from Chicago to Amsterdam, have heavy rail into airports.

    A better option is to shift passengers to Onterio airport, which has two existing heavy rail lines in close proximity that could be improved incrementally. Real estate in the valley is cheap compared to the coast. The property that LAX sits on (and keeps wanting to annex more of) should be the most expensive real estate in the city, if the airport wasn’t there.

  42. Since LAX has 9 terminals not a single terminal a LRT line into LAX would still require a transfer to get to the required airline terminal. Also at the planned hub terminal their can and should be a cross platform transfer between the LRT lines and the people mover. ( Hong Kong has excellent cross platform transfers between lines) A remote hub especially with security and baggage check would sure be convenient to travelers. It will be easier and faster than being dropped off at the terminal by car, bus or taxi.

    What seams to be left out is the direct Metro Line from Sylmar to LAX through Van Nuys, Studio City, Westwood or Century City, Culver City, Westchester and LAX.with the “hub” terminal there is an easy transfer for all modes of transit and a easy direct access to the all 9 airport terminals.

    Alan

  43. Light or heavy rail down the 405 from the valley is most likely impossible. The new widening project appears to leave little room for trackage adjacent to the traffic lanes. On the northbound side there is a wall rising almost straight up to the top of the hill. Tunneling would undermine the freeway unless it was extremely deep and would preclude a station at Malholand or Getty Center. Perhaps it would have been possible if it were included in the widening project but now looks impossible.

  44. The airlines themselves do not see any benefit of flying into Ontario. If there were, they’d already be doing so. Instead they all choose LAX which is more expensive and more crowded. It’s not like they all don’t know Ontario Airport exists. They all used to fly there. But they don’t anymore. Now why is that?

    The demand for Ontario Airport is just not there.

  45. No airline really flies in or out of Ontario frequently enough for that to be cost effective. Domestics are decent, but not nearly as much traffic goes through Ontario as LAX, so it would not be to cost effective, where as LAX has a true rush hour, and has a heck of a lot more commuters that live closer than Ontario. You can literally sit in Alta Loma and watch LAX Approaches as they soar right over Ontario. I see maybe one take off an hour when im that way, and LAX could have 3 flights taking off and approaching at the same time. Big difference in demand.

  46. Todd M. — I have a couple of responses to that. First, 747s/A380s aren’t exactly a large proportion of the planes into LAX. Flightaware.com shows maybe 2 per hour, plus some 777s, plus a lot of 737s and regional jets. (Yes, I’m leaving a lot of types out, but in general you can lump them into those size categories.) It’s probably around 12000 people per hour, during the busiest part of the day. I’m only counting one direction, because we’re only counting light rail capacity one way.

    400 people every 6 minutes is 4000 people per hour. I think that capacity number is high, but the headway estimate is low, so it balances out. That’s a third of the flight traffic. Now we get into the second part of my argument, which is that roads work well at capacity and get dramatically less useful when over capacity. It’s not a linear function. http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/04/public-transportation-does-relieve-traffic-congestion-just-not-everywhere/5149/ suggests that despite the relatively small transit mode share in LA, traffic would be much worse without transit. Thus, reducing car trips into LAX by 30% would be a massive, stunning success in terms of traffic reduction. Not that this is an important metric for me, because I’d be riding the train anyway.

    Less important, plenty of cities with bad transit have heavy rail into airports. I’m thinking of SFO and ATL specifically.

  47. I looked at the sketches with rail tunnels under and around the airport and shuddered at the cost. No way will these be done.

    A people mover is the only sensible option, but to propose a people mover station at 98th some distance from the Crenshaw Aviation/Century (AC) station is just silly. Escalators, lifts, long walkways and stairs – nonsense, Matthew has it right. Instead of a single island platform at AC have two platforms with the Crenshaw/Green tracks between then. Then the people mover tracks can be on the outside of the platforms, giving ideal cross platform interchange.

    As I understand it, the Green Line is to be rerouted to terminate at AC, while the Crenshaw Line will provide through services north and south. Then a terminating stub will be needed north of AC so that the Green Line trains can reverse clear of the Crenshaw trains. Easy.

    Now about the people mover. Forget the intermittent service provided by a standard people mover. Instead use the Never Stop Railway (NSR), which provides continuous service. This worked well in service in London at the White City Exhibitions. An updated version would use steel wheels on steel rails for reduced rolling resistance, variable pitch screws for acceleration and braking, and cable haulage for the long sections from AC to the ITF and from there to the first of the terminals to be served. It would then serve all terminals, and head back to the ITF and AC. At AC the NSR cars from the Airport would come alongside the city bound platform to set down and pick up passengers, then come alongside the outbound platform to interchange passengers, crossing over the tracks by bridges as necessary. The NSR has a major advantage in that as the cars have no means of motive power they can be much lighter than powered cars with heavy motors – and quieter too.

    The maximum passenger throughput, using 24 ft cars (18 seats, 12 standing) moving at 2 mph (3 ft/sec) through the stations (16 or more mph between them) would be 13,500 persons per hour, equivalent to 33.75 Jumbo jets with 400 persons each. Capacity of the line would be no problem, given that many of the Airport passengers would use cars or buses to arrive/exit the Airport. The two rail lines, each operating on a three minute headway, at 400 persons per train would have a capacity of 16,000 persons per hour – more if it is remembered that the Crenshaw line will take passengers both north and south, while headway on the Green line coukd be reduced at 2 minutes if need be. Certainly the NSR plus the two rail lines would be sufficient to deal with a majority of the passengers using LAX.

    I would recommend that in addition to the ‘main line’ extending out to AC, there be also an internal loop for the NSR, operating in the opposite sense for passengers travelling between terminals so that inter-terminal passengers do not have to travel out to AC and back!

  48. You think San Francisco has bad transit? They probably have the most intense transit in the United States. Buses, trolley buses, light rail and BART. There is hardly any streets without so sort of mass transit running on it or within a block or two.