How Not to Do Public Transport to the Airport

No doubt there are folks who like Los Angeles International Airport, though it’s a bit of a mess, fortunately there’s a new Tom Bradley International Terminal rolling out in stages (the old one is one of the great embarrassments to U.S. aviation). Even that improvement though comes with its disruptions.

Personally the only two things I like about LAX are:

No doubt many Angelinos would value better public transportation to and from LAX. The L.A. Airspace blog reports that the airports authority is mulling just that.

A simple underlining though should make clear why their plan is a bad one.

Los Angeles International Airport officials today outlined their plans for a possible new intermodal transportation center about a mile east of the airport.

At Washington Dulles, the question of whether to terminate rail 550 feet vs. 1150 feet from the terminal is a controversial one.

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. They are indeed considering a multimodal transit center a mile east, but that’s not the full part of the story.

    Instead LAX has recommended building an airport connector (similar to Airtrain in New York) to the terminals. If the Crenshaw Line were to serve the airport, you would have to connect to an airport shuttle or tram anyways as stopping at each individual terminal would make the project more costly and cause a significant increase in travel times for those who are using the line other than to go to LAX.

    I recommend reading this post from Metro’s blog, The Source. It highlights every intricacy of the project.

  2. From LA as well. One of the biggest things is that Southern California is all about cars. Most of the major fast food chains took off/started in California under the idea of people owning cars and driving around. Whenever they talk about making the Metro go anywhere near the airport the taxi unions and other special interests cry foul. Southern Californians also tend to not like expansion in there area (just research the 710 extension and how long South Pasadena has been fighting that connection).

  3. I take the bus to and from LAX frequently. You simply WALK east to Sepulveda Blvd. at Century Blvd, a mere 3 minutes from Terminal 1. There you will find stops for MTA lines 232 and 117 as well as Torrance line 8. Santa Monica Line 3 is nearby at the LAX bus center, along with many other MTA lines.

    LAX also has shuttle buses to the Green Line station on Imperial Highway. has a trip planner to give you transit options to or from anywhere in the area. Transit in LA tends to work well if your trip follows a major commute route. In this case that means north, south, or east from LAX rather than diagonally anywhere.

    The current transit center proposal looks like a beefed up version of the current LAX bus center moved to the Green Line station. It looks like a lot of expense for no real benefit, in fact lengthening many trips.

  4. If you read into the project a little more, you’ll see that they’re planning an airport-specific automated people mover to connect to the transit center, as well as parking facilities and a consolidated rental facility (think Airtrain at JFK). So no, it’s not a bad plan.

  5. I think they should just get more people to use the LAX bus center that nsx described. The bus was super cheap and they seemed to run very frequently and work very well. But hardly anyone used it, at least when I was there, and I have a theory as to why. In 3 of 4 trips to/from LAX-Santa Monica, the bus driver was pretty much an evil screaming psycho. Only one driver seemed to be an actual human being.

    Spend a few bucks on teaching those drivers some manners…seems way more cost effective than building an entire train station or whatever this new proposal is. The buses I took weren’t even close to full. But the behavior of the bus drivers was truly disgraceful. One driver seemed to have nothing better to do than scream at some jet-lagged dude hot off the plane from Istanbul for not knowing instantly which bus to take. It made me ashamed to be an American to listen to her berate this poor kid. Fire those people, and hire kind patient drivers who don’t mind helping tourists. That’s all you need. There were plenty of seats, and if I remember correctly, the cost was only a dollar or two. Seems kinda hard to improve on that.

  6. I am always taking the Big Blue Bus 3 from Santa Monica to LAX. It takes one hour (same time as driving during rush hour) and is $1. A great deal and very easy.

    The flyaway bus is also great because it takes you to Amtrak station downtown which is linked with all the metrolinks and subways. Very easy to get to Pasadena, Anaheim, WeHo, etc. Plus, you get to see a bit of LA this way, too.

  7. Thanks to all for their comments! I’ve always resigned myself to renting a car at LAX but this thread is full of great tips!

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