The Los Angeles City Council has unanimously approved a people mover at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Will this project fundamentally transform LAX? Is it worth the nearly $5BN price tag?
At the outset, let me say that I’m a Los Angeles resident who uses LAX far more often than most. I deeply desire an airport that is easily accessible, modern, and efficient. We’re getting closer to that day.
The new project will connect:
- Three terminal stops (with bridges/elevators/escalators connecting either side of LAX’s horseshoe-shaped terminal structure)
- A Ground Transportation Hub (for ridesharing vehicles, public bus transport, and hotel shuttles)
- A new Metro Station (at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard, connecting LAX to Metro’s Green Line)
Trains will run every two minutes, carrying up to 10,000 passenger per hour. A viewing platform of the LAX Theme Building will also be constructed. Construction is slated for completion in 2023.
How This Project Will Change LAX
Think of this: no rental car shuttles, no busses, no Uber or Lyft. Boom! Suddenly, the crawling airport starts to move again. Suddenly it no longer takes 30 minutes from the freeway exit to the terminal at 10pm…
And not to be the contrarian to conventional wisdom on Angelenos, but I believe many would LIKE to use public transportation if it was actually useful. I certainly would. My brother will soon move into a house in Pasadena near a Metro Line and leave his car at home, taking the train to his office downtown every day. This new project at LAX makes using public transport much more enticing, especially as the LA Metro system continues to expand.
Is It Worthwhile?
At $4.89BN, there is no question that this is a pricy project. Many believe the project simply cannot be defended when a more robust bus system presents a far-cheaper viable alternative.
But I do want to push back against one common criticism, namely that the trains will be landside (before security) instead of airside (after security). Of course it would be nice to have an airside train connecting terminal to terminal, but connecting between every LAX terminal once you are past security is coming. Already, the Tom Bradley International Terminal is connected with Terminals 4-8. As Terminals 1-3 are updated, these three will also be linked.
Per the LA Times:
Stiff penalties are built into the contract to discourage cost overruns and schedule delays, some of the most frequent issues with Southern California construction projects.
In other words, if LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS – the company who won this contract) is late, taxpayers will not be left on the hook.
I’m excited about the new project. What do you think about the prospect of a new train/people mover system at LAX? Waste of time and money or much-needed upgrade to an overcrowded airport?