Art of Transit: A trio of pics of Crenshaw/LAX Line edition, which is scheduled to open next year. I took these pics just before landing at LAX on Tuesday — and, as it happens, LAX will be our main subject today. Keep on scrollin’.
In the news…
•The travel advice publisher Fodors calls Bob Hope Airport in Burbank the best airport in the U.S. because it’s small and convenient. And the worst airport on the planet according to Forbes? LAX. Why? Take a guess. Excerpt:
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the fourth busiest airport in the world—87.5 million people flew through it in 2018—but for the poor souls who aren’t merely killing time in a layover, those who woefully call this their point of dis- or embarkation, they are forced to endure the purgatorial nightmare of traffic that leads to and from each of LAX’s nine terminals (as many terminals as Dante’s hell has circles).
Thanks to the improbably stupid design of its catastrophic horseshoe motor-loop, it regularly requires 30 minutes to travel the short mile from the outskirts of the airport to most of its terminals. And because Los Angeles was built as a city beholden to the automobile, there is no other way to arrive or depart from this maddening complex of suffering but through the interminable traffic.
Fodors correctly notes that LAX is construting a people mover that will link to the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line rail station at Aviation and 96th Street that Metro is building. Both the people mover — which will also link to a new LAX ground transportation center — and the rail lines will provide alternatives to driving into the horseshoe.
Some topics that Fodors doesn’t address but I wish they did:
–One big reason LAX is so busy is that other airports in our region are small and have short runways (both Bob Hope and John Wayne) that can only accommodate smaller jets. San Diego’s airport, like John Wayne, only has a single runway. The San Diego region has never gotten around to building a modern airport, meaning in effect they’re relying on our region to pay for some of their airport needs. Ontario and Long Beach are both under-utilized and commercial service to Palmdale ceased in 2008. Translation: the 18 million souls who live in Southern California have to lean heavily on LAX.
–Another big reason that LAX gets hammered: the airlines choose to fly mostly to LAX. And fares can be cheaper to and from LAX, something I encounter often when I’d rather fly to/from Bob Hope, which is much closer to my crib.
–Fodors notes that our region’s traffic is “interminable” but let’s be clear it’s a vicious circle with traffic to/from LAX contributing to our regional traffic woes. Look at the numbers below — in April more than 52,000 private vehicles entered LAX each day (an improvement over 2018). The Dodger Stadium parking lot has about 15,000 spaces, meaning LAX is kind of like a sold out Dodger Stadium filling up and emptying more than three times each day.
All that said, I’ll also say this: LAX currently has plenty of options for getting there via private shuttles and the Flyaway. But people continue to drive to LAX in droves and there’s nothing really to discourage them besides distance and traffic. Would a fee to drive into the place discourage people? I dunno. People, me included, like rides to the airport.
I’ll also add this: LAX clearly wasn’t built for this level of traffic and it’s sort of a miracle that motorists can often get in and out of the place in a decent amount of time.
•A group of San Marino residents wants the city to reject $32 million in Metro funding for road projects intended to help mitigate traffic on surface streets created by the gap in the 710 freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
•The Pasadena City Council approved installing traffic signal priority equipment for city buses along key corridors in the city — similar to equipment used by Metro and Foothill Transit in Pas, reports the SGV Tribune. Attentive Source readers know that speeding us buses is a big provision in Metro’s Vision 2028 Plan.
Categories: Transportation Headlines
From West Hollywood, I take the Metro 704 rapid to the Culver City 6R bus ($2.25). I grab a drink at Melody or at Sam First, and walk into LAX
Would rideshare (Uber/Lyft) belong to the taxi or private vehicle category? It was my impression that the traffic has gotten worse yearly because of rideshare drivers circling the horseshoe in hopes of a pickup. These numbers would suggest I am wrong or there is some methodology problem in how the numbers are collected.
At any rate, LAWA really could make a dent in this by implementing a rule that rideshares must meet passengers outside the airport via shuttle bus. The current G shuttle comes pretty frequently and I’ve met friends/family there for a pickup, or the current LAX Bus Center can be repurposed for that fairly easily, as an interim solution until we get the people mover. The status quo is really untenable.
Rideshare drivers are assigned a pickup, otherwise you could be fined. They’re not circling aimlessly waiting for a ping
If you live anywhere near the 405, or any point west, cars (private, Uber or taxi) are the only serious option for getting to LAX, unless you live in close proximity to Lincoln for the Big Blue Bus. The Flyaway bus from Westwood is being discontinued due to low ridership. And nobody west of Culver City would backtrack on the future Crenshaw Line.
Until the Sepulveda or a 4th Purple Line extension reaches LAX, cars will be the primary access for the majority.
It is difficult for many people that live in the hills or not near a bus line to get to LAX. Airport shuttles are terrible and should be out of business, their drivers never arrive on time to where you are waiting. Many people do use Lyft or Uber but it does not eliminate traffic at all. Another reason LAX is so popular is due to the fact if you go to Burbank or Long Beach most times you have to fly to cities out of the way to make connecting flights, it is a waste of time.
I am confused by the San Marino story – is the objection because of the potential for induced demand/road widening/etc.? Or is it a more general NIMBYism? I’m also confused why all these mitigations seem so car-centric – what about, e.g., a better way to get to the South Pasadena Gold Line station (via more frequent buses/bus lanes/etc.)?
I am confused by the San Marino thing – is the issue that these improvements would widen roads/induce demand/etc.? Or is it more straightforward NIMBYism? And why do the only options seem to be car-related; why not make it easier to get to South Pasadena station via bus, for instance?
Hi 8 Minute;
I don’t want to speak on behalf of anyone but, yes, the concern is about increased traffic on local roads. Most of the projects proposed as part of the 710 North project involve trying to improve traffic flow on local roads given that the primary issue that triggered the project in the first place is the gap in the 710 between Alhambra and Pasadena.
Editor, The Source
Despite the people mover addition, I wish they will fix the horseshoe design to improve service. Instead of one way to get in, which especially dumb if you’re going to the terminal on the opposite side (the bypass is equally a poor design), they should allow drivers to access both sides and exit down the middle in Central Way to exit. They must also reduce the parking structures, which should only be used for pickup and drop off.
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Don’t you mean that the bend in the line shown in your third picture is east of the runway? 🙂
Pasadena buses have on average less than 20 people on them at a time, may with a low value of time due to fares being so low. It is questionable if they deserve priority over car traffic.