Both rideshares and taxis will no longer be able to pick-up curbside at LAX. Is that great or terrible news for travelers?
As of 3AM on October 29, 2019:
- LAX will no longer allow curbside pick-ups for all rideshare and taxi drivers
- Instead travelers will be required to take a shuttle bus to a designated lot to catch their ride
- Rideshare and taxi drop-offs will continue to be allowed on the upper level of the airport
- The shuttle between the airport and lot will run frequently; those wishing to walk can do so, though it’s probably only practical from Southwest’s Terminal 1, given the location of the lot
As part of this, they’re also adjusting the flow of traffic at the airport for those vehicles that can use it:
- Hotel and private parking shuttles will exclusively use the upper level
- Airline connector, economy lot, employee shuttles, and FlyAway buses, will be relocated to the inner curb of the lower level
- Private pick-ups will be relocated to the outer curb of the arrival level
Essentially they’re totally reversing the flow of traffic on the lower level, as previously rideshares and private vehicles picked up on the inner curb, while shuttles picked up in the outer curb.
LAX Has Massive Congestion Issues
LAX has seen a huge growth in traffic over the past several times. For example, in 2010 the airport had just over 59 million passengers, while in 2018 the airport had over 87 million passengers. Not only do they continue to use the same roadways for pick-ups that they’ve been using for a long time, but:
- The airport is undergoing a massive construction project, and that is causing even more congestion
- Not that LAX has good public transportation, but with ridesharing only really being a thing in the past several years, we’re largely seeing people get to airports less efficiently (more people may have taken buses or shuttles in the past, while now many people get picked up on their own in a rideshare, given how reasonably priced it is)
All of this is ultimately a somewhat temporary measure, in the sense that LAX is being completely redesigned. Eventually we’ll see a people mover between the terminals and a new facility for car rentals and more. That being said, it’ll be years and years before construction is complete.
Is This Good Or Bad News?
Over 25,000 rideshare cars use the airport every day. That’s an average of over 1,000 per hour, or about 17 per minute. That’s a lot of cars.
Across the board I’m seeing people suggest this is a negative change. I don’t disagree, but I’d also note that across the board I hear people complaining about how awful the congestion is at LAX, and how it can take 30+ minutes for an Uber to arrive.
Obviously this is a situation where they can’t win. I guess this comes down to whether they were just going to continue with the status quo for several more years (and have people gripe), or try something new (and have people gripe).
Personally I’m not quite as pessimistic about this as some others. Do I dread having to get on a shuttle? Yes, absolutely. But I also dreaded waiting forever for an Uber.
No matter what it will be more of a hassle than the old system, but I do think it could potentially be a timesaver, if done correctly (though I’m skeptical as to how well they’ll execute on this).
I’m Surprised They Didn’t Try This Instead
I’m not sure this would have actually benefited anyone, but I’m surprised they didn’t instead add an extra fee for airport pick-ups, in hopes of it reducing airport congestion. Airports love finding new ways to increase revenue. I imagine the consumer benefit would have been limited, but I’m surprised they didn’t try.
LAX will ban rideshare and taxi pick-ups as of October 29. As of then, all pick-ups will have to happen at a lot near the airport, to which they’ll provide free shuttle service. In the process they’ll also be reworking the airport roadway, keeping the inner lane for official shuttles, and the outer lane for personal pick-ups.
No one likes the idea of having to get on a shuttle to get a rideshare. At the same time, no one likes LAX’s current traffic issues. So while I’m not enthusiastic about this change, I’m not quite as pessimistic as some. I’ll reserve judgment until this is live, and am curious to what extent it actually reduces traffic.
How do you feel about this change — awesome, meh, or awful?