How To Connect Rail To LAX — A Staff Proposal

Los Angeles Metro released their staff recommendation for how to connect the future Crenshaw light rail line to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). Metro’s “The Source” has a good summary with links to the relevant documents. Bottom line: Metro staff recommends an extra light rail station along the existing Crenshaw route to connect to a future automated “people-mover” train that would carry rail passengers to the airport. Here’s the map:


I generally like this option the best. As I discussed in a previous blog post, rail connections to airports are generally not huge rider magnets. The staff report, for example, projects that only 1-2% of all travelers will arrive at LAX by rail or bus. Sure, the airport expects over 60 million passengers a year, but relative to the thousands taking the Crenshaw line each day, not to mention the cost of bringing rail to the airport, it’s pretty puny. This option addresses that reality by not inconveniencing non-airport bound Crenshaw line riders with an unnecessary detour closer to the airport. Better to have the People Mover come to the Crenshaw line, rather than the other way around.

I also like the people mover stop at the future “Intermodal Transfer Facility” near Lot C. That will allow a host of off-site activities to take place, including possibly luggage check-in, car rental pickup/dropoff, and transit transfers.

But some big question marks: will LAX actually build the People Mover? I wouldn’t trust the airport to follow through, given its prior intransigence on allowing rail to the airport at all (as I discuss in Railtown). And will the People Mover just have a few central stops in the giant LAX horseshoe, or will it circulate around the terminals for maximum convenience (and ridership)? Finally, is it worthwhile to have an extra Crenshaw line stop for the people-mover just .4 miles north of the planned Century/Aviation stop? Seems like those stations are too close and would slow overall travel. But maybe there’s no better solution.

We’ll have to stay tuned to see how Metro directors — and the airport — respond to this sensible proposal.


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