Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 1

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Hello Metro riders and readers. I was on vacation for a couple of days, so I’m catching up. As usual, please bear with me.

Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus)

Train station to connect Metro rail lines with LAX approved (L.A. Times) 

The Times neatly and succinctly summarizes the Metro Board’s decision last Thursday to go forward with environmentally clearing an additional station on the Crenshaw/LAX Line that would connect with a people mover to be built by Los Angeles World Airports. Excerpt:

Officials say the new station will speed up airport access and could include check-in counters, flight information boards and currency exchange locations. The board also asked for a review of baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation hubs in other cities to determine whether that service could be added.

In an early Metro concept sketch, the station is depicted as a glass, multi-story building with covered rail platforms and a passenger drop-off area.

The 96th Street station still must go through a final design process, environmental review and cost analysis. Additions such as ticketing areas and concessions would increase the $200-million cost.


MTA predicts less than one percent of LAX passengers will take train to LAX (LA Weekly) 

Gene Maddeus dives into the Metro staff report and focuses on ridership estimates that show that the majority of LAX passengers in the future will likely travel to and from the airport by car — and that the FlyAway bus may attract significantly more passengers than a light rail-people mover connection. Excerpt:

The station approved Thursday is a much cheaper alternative, which probably won’t have all the bells and whistles that Garcetti had envisioned. Nevertheless, it is a rail connection to LAX, and Garcetti heralded it as a key step in the direction of building a world-class airport.

Assuming that LAX and MTA can continue to cooperate on this, the rail link could open around 2022. That leaves one big unanswered question: Will anybody use it?

As the saying goes, predictions are hard, especially about the future. Nevertheless, MTA has made its best effort to guess how many people will take the train to the airport. The answer:



This is not to say that the train-to-LAX link should not be built. It is to suggest that expectations be kept in check until MTA can plan, fund and build a more comprehensive rail network.


The new Aviation/96th station will likely be most convenient to those using the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line. An extension of the Green Line to the south (a Measure R funded project) and extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the north to a connection with the subway (a project in Metro’s long-range plan but without any current funding) would, of course, significantly increase the reach of both lines.

Supervisor Don Knabe on the Aviation/96th station (Supervisor Don Knabe’s website)

LAX is in Don Knabe’s district and the Supervisor and Metro Board Member sent this note to constituents about last week’s vote — the last graph is key:

For years, I’ve said it’s embarrassing that the second largest city in America with the third busiest airport still does not have a direct transit connection. Major airports across the country, as well as internationally, can be accessed by subway, people mover, or air train, yet traveling to LAX requires a car, or a shuttle ride from the Green Line.

We’ve struggled for decades trying to solve this transportation puzzle, but finally, the MTA Board took a giant leap towards creating a solution last week. On a motion by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilman Mike Bonin, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and me, the Board voted in favor of constructing a rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard as part of the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line. This state-of-the-art station will serve as a “front door” for riders, connecting them to the LAX terminals via airport people mover.

Though this is a major milestone in finally linking the airport to our regional transit system, there are still hurdles to clear. Metro must continue working with Los Angeles World Airports and the Board of Airport Commissioners to ensure that a people mover will be constructed. Without their guarantee, we could end up stuck with a state-of-the-art station to nowhere. As the details surrounding the new rail station and a people mover continue to develop, I will be sure to keep you updated.


Metro buses get multi-camera surveillance systems (KABC-7) 

In order to prevent crime and remind riders that law enforcement is watching, Metro is overhauling the video systems on its buses — including monitors showing riders a real-time video feed. The move was prompted, in part, by the 191 assaults on Metro bus operators between 2010 and 2013. “We have every confidence that this is going to increase safety and discourage those who might be inclined to do otherwise,” L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is quoted in the article. Here  is our post from last week announcing the upgrades.

The painful consequences of liking fake subway maps (Los Angeles Review of Books) 

Ben Pack ruminates on transit maps, driving and bike riding in the Los Angeles area, culminating in a cycling accident in Hollywood.



16 replies

  1. Ron,

    It’s all about partnerships and alliances now. LAX is a major world hub for three major airline alliances: oneworld, Skyteam, and Star Alliance.

    American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, and Qantas all serve LAX and they are part of the oneworld alliance. They have the same check in and reservation system, they have equal benefits for frequent flyers, everything is integrated.

    Same with United Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, EVA Air, Air China, Lufthansa, etc. etc. They are all part of the Star Alliance.

    Same with Delta Airlines, Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Korean Air, Air France/KLM, and China Eastern. They form the Skyteam Alliance.

    Three major global alliances with integrated systems. All that is needed is three major check-in counters, one for oneworld, one for Star Alliance, and one for Skyteam.

  2. Finally! The train to LAX should’ve been done thirty years ago.

  3. The fancy station with check-in counters and concessions will never work. Check-in counters are operated by airlines, and off-airport check-in only works where a single airline dominates an airport, and even then it struggles (think Continental at Newark, or British Airways at Heathrow). LAX thankfully has a lot of healthy competition between airlines, and with only a small percentage of travelers arriving by train, and these travelers split among several airlines (none of which has more than a 25% share of air passengers), no airline will find it worthwhile to operate a remote check-in counter.

    As for concessions, perhaps a vending machine or a small cart with coffee and chips to go might work, but no more. People at a transfer station want to transfer, not linger. Concessions at a Metro station have a much better chance of working in a station with street traffic. But if a separate station is built for transfers to the people mover, then yes, build it pretty and spacious for good traffic flow, and do add a departure/arrivals display, but don’t waste money on space for counters and concessions that will never be used, just so that politicians can claim they built a “state of the art station”.

  4. James,

    When travelers arrive at any airport in the world, they look for signs at the airport that say “train to city.” This is what happens next:

    1. Arrive at LAX
    2. Look at signs at the terminal which says “trains to city”
    3. They follow the signs
    4. They take the people mover
    5. They get off at 96th/Aviation
    6. They figure it out from there

    This what everyone’s thought process is upon arrival at an airport. If you don’t understand this thought process, you haven’t traveled a lot.

  5. Will LAWA re-imburse Metro for the 96th station if the people mover is not operating within a certain time?

  6. Re: Ridership to Airport:
    If the 0.8% refers only to AIR TRAVELERS on a daily basis, that may be correct. It is also not particularly relevant. The key issue: How many AIRPORT EMPLOYEES are projected to use the new link? Employees who use the link every workday are the critical support for such a project.

    If the number is significant, then the link is worthwhile, especially if it used by employees who now drive.

    Air travelers are the icing. Airport employees are the cake.

  7. Only 0.8% will use transit to LAX? HA!

    Metro once said the Blue Line will have at most 5,000 riders per day. It reached over 12,000 riders in the first month. Metro said that the most the Expo Line will see 27,000 riders a day by 2020 when both Phase I and II are completed. In 2014 the Expo Line is already hitting 26,000 riders a day just on Phase I alone.

    Metro once said fare evasion was not a problem and was low as 1%. Lo and behold they found out that fare evasion was as high as 20% on the Orange Line.

    Fool me once, fool me twice, can’t fool me three times. Never trust government figures.

  8. I have my doubts about arriving passengers using the Crenshaw line as currently planned, or even using a LAX branch of the Green line. Think about it: how many tourists are trying to get to the corner of Exposition and Crenshaw? How many, if plopped down at that intersection, and encumbered by luggage, would want to be someplace else? Ditto for the interchange between the Century and Harbor Freeways. Or how about the Willowbrook station? We need it to actually go between the airport and someplace a visitor is actually going to want to go, without asking them to transfer in places like right in front of the Probation Department offices.

  9. Furthermore, if one were smart, they’ll realize that property values will rise in places near train stations as it has in other places. Now would be a good time for investors to buy real estate and homes near Crenshaw Line stations.

  10. Even in the best circumstance, a direct train to the airport at O’Hare, plus a convenient commuter rail connection at Jefferson Park and express train service to a remote parking lot, the rail usage percentage for Chicago’s international airport is 5%. LAX and Downtown LA are about the same distance, and there are many business centers such as Century City, Warner Center, and Westwood which will not be served by rail for some time. Given two trains for most people and a people mover connection, 1% seems reasonable.

  11. James Lampert,

    There is no way ever that every 10 million resident in LA County will get that coveted one seat ride to LAX for cheap. Get over it and face reality.

    Instead of waiting for the train to come to your front door in your suburban home, why don’t you move to where the train is coming? Why is that never an option? There’s nothing stopping you from moving closer to any of the communities near the Crenshaw Line or Green Line stations so that you get that one seat (if you can find it in the first place) ride to LAX that you want so badly.

    You chose to live in the suburbs, then deal with the consequences. Otherwise, you’re never going to get that one seat ride from your suburban home to LAX. If you want it really badly and it’s worth everything, then move closer to the stations.

    Hawthorne, Lennox, Inglewood, El Segundo, Athens, Gardena, Hyde Park, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, West Adams are all communities served by the Crenshaw Line and Green Line that will make your one seat ride to LAX a reality for you. If you don’t want to because of personal reasons, then continue driving to LAX.

  12. “MTA’s consultant estimates that 1,790 passengers will take the train to the airport each day in 2035.”

    Yeah, uh-huh suuuuuure. We all know how these “consultants” are way off base when it comes to estimating things related to public transit in LA. Remember when they estimated how many people will riding the Blue Line when it opened?

    I expect that this figure will be totally wrong on the very first day the LAX station opens.

  13. After reading the full LAWA report and several articles, I am still unclear on what the purpose of the ITF people mover station is. They seem to imply that the ITF station will be the ground transportation hub where transit riders and car passengers will interface with the people mover.

    But isn’t this the purpose of the new 96th St Station???? The 96th St Station should be a Union Station-West where all rail and bus transfers are done, and where passengers are dropped off and picked up.

    Or is the ITF just supposed to be where a big parking structure goes?

  14. “MTA has made its best effort to guess how many people will take the train to the airport. The answer: 0.8%”

    Los Angeles is also one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Our city gets tourists from all over the world, many of whom who have no experience in driving or renting a car. Assuming everyone who comes to LA knows how to speak English and everyone knows how to drive a car is extremely short-sighted.

    Has Metro conducted any study to see how many people arriving at LAX will take the train FROM the airport?

  15. Well of course, people aren’t going to take MetroRail to LAX, given the planned alignments. Who in his or her right mind is going to want to make at least one transfer with luggage, and most likely at least two or three (even with the Downtown Regional Connector built), with at least one of them (and potentially all of them) involving trains on different levels, just to get to Downtown and/or Union Station?

    The biggest problem with the Crenshaw/LAX line isn’t the lack of through service to the terminals at LAX. It’s the lack of through service to downtown.

    And I’m convinced that the Flyaway Bus people would be very happy to keep it that way.

  16. Love that article by Ben Pack. Even though it’s a bit of a spoiler (the closing paragraph) this is a great excerpt. After being hit while riding his bike he closes with:

    —He was a guy not too different from me — slim with a mop of brown hair, late 20s, early 30s — all shook up, worse than me, and after apologizing profusely and offering to pay for my bike’s repair, he said, “You know I skateboard all the time.”

    In the moment, I was annoyed — he could have killed me. I doubt he meant anything by it, but his words later struck me as fundamental and profound. Like the city we live in, we view ourselves differently depending on the context. I am a driver, except when I am a cyclist or a skateboarder or a pedestrian. I am at work, unless I am at play; I am the boss, until I am the employee. I am in control, and then I am powerless. We transition fluidly between these roles, crisscrossing a town that we invent for ourselves as we please, our maps in our heads, mostly unaware that others are doing the same, until bang, we collide.—