New “People Mover” Coming To LAX

Filed Under: Travel

If you’ve ever driven to or from Los Angeles International Airport in an Uber, taxi, shuttle bus, or your own car, you know how crowded the roads at the airport can be. Connecting between terminals can be a complicated matter too. Well, in a few years things might just get a bit easier.

Earlier this week the Los Angeles City Council approved a $4.9 billion project to build an elevated train system at the airport.

It’ll have 3 stops at the airport and then stop at a ground transportation hub (for shuttles and taxis) and a Metro rail station (for the dozen or so people in LA that use the subway, I guess). The new train system will also stop at a consolidated car rental facility, making those rental car buses that are so ubiquitous at LAX a thing of the past.

Drawing of the planned people mover, courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports.

The train (or people mover, as they’re calling it) is one of a number of infrastructure improvements planned in the city for the years leading up to the LA Summer Olympics in 2028.

Personally I wish the train would stop at the In-N-Out by the airport.

Don’t celebrate quite yet: the project isn’t expected to be finished until March 2023 (I wonder if United’s Polaris Lounge at LAX will be open by then).

In the meantime, and especially once construction begins, allow lots of time to get to the airport. Or try Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario, or John Wayne!

Angelenos: Will having a connection to the Metro make you more likely to use public transit to LAX?

  1. If they could push all Uber/Lyft pickups to outside of this people mover location (like the post says) that would be GREAT! The Uber/Lyft drivers clog up the horseshoe around the airport in a very bad way. Next if LAX management could keep buses and cars on separate levels that would also greatly help the traffic flow. Sounds like the people mover addresses this and the shuttle drop off/pick up location will be at a people mover stop and not right at the airport. That to me will be a HUGE win for LAX.

  2. Huge waste of money. $5 BILLION!!!!

    That’s enough money to buy 15,000 buses. What they need are some express buses to the train station. If they leave every 2 minutes, they may need 30 buses, not 15,000.

    With fortress airline alliances, few connect between Delta and United. Maybe the most connections are to the TBIT international terminal. United to TBIT isn’t that far, at least, not $5 Billion far.

  3. Only a dozen people use the subway in LA? I have always suspected most liberals to be hypocrites. Liberals are fair minded people as long as they FORCED to do it through regulation. On their own they are self centered raging capitalists while spouting Marxist principles of equality.

    I.e do as I say not as I do.

  4. @debit when did this blog become a debate between liberal and conservative positions? Last I read, it is about points, mileage and travel related concerns.

  5. $5 billion and it doesn’t include a train system to connect terminals airside/inside security? What a waste.

  6. 3 comments in and we’re already in stupidville.

    This will be super useful in connecting to the rental car facility, as well as transferring over between terminals. As for the cost benefit of busses vs. a train, trains have lower operating costs (they’re centrally automated vs. requiring a driver) , handle peak traffic better, and tend to pay for themselves.

    Not to mention, having a direct metro link will make it much more appealing.

  7. While I’d never take public transit to the airport from home, it will make getting from my office to the airport a lot easier, as I work just down the block right near the planned airport train stop.

  8. I’ve taken FlyAway, a shuttle bus to public transit, Uber/Lyft, and rented cars at LAX. And I’ve walked to the Sheraton too. The one thing all travel paths to their airport have in common is needing to deal with the horrendous traffic around the horseshoe. For those that don’t know, you can walk faster at certain times of the day than drive. It’s about time there is an alternative.

  9. I came expecting to enjoy this article. Instead, what I read is a flip comment about Metro riders in LA.

    While there’s a lot that can be said about the validity of airport rail connections (they’re of dubious ROI), there’s no need to be a jerk to public transit riders in LA just because they’re not the sort of people who ordinarily read this blog. LA’s Metro Rail services get about 350k riders a day, and buses draw another 900k or so. Not huge mode share for a city of LA’s size, but not nothing either.

    This connection will be of immense value to airport employees — or, you know, the people who stock lounge snacks for you.

  10. Uber/Lyft and Taxi will also be required to pick up at the external off-site transit hub stop to remove the traffic from the internal loop.

  11. Dozens, haha.
    I bet many people will take advantage of the train, especially airport employees once built. However you probably don’t factor in all the people that actually make the airport work and are only thinking about passengers.

  12. People mover is the correct terminology for such a system serving small areas, and many airports have successfully employed automated people movers for decades. The light-rail or “train” line under construction near LAX cannot feasibly be extended to the airport. This plan is similar to the systems in place at JFK and SEA, and as for the price, that is a function of the political and regulatory environment at the location where it is being proposed.

  13. Debit needs to be banned for his sheer stupidity. I thought he already was? Just keep banning the damn guy even if he keeps coming back. LA is such a gigantic and spread out metropolitan area that last mile coverage is a huge issue but plenty of people use the above-ground trains like Metro Link. The subway isn’t going to get you out to the suburbs where an overwhelming majority of people live and Uber within the city works quite well. In real life people use what is most convenient for them regardless of their politics. Still, it’s not like LA Metro isn’t doing anything about public transit at all, the liberals in government are very proactive into actually getting solutions in place instead of sitting on their hands and complaining about how the government is broken so we need to break it more like conservatives do. Conservatives complain, do nothing, and propose breaking stuff as the solution. Liberals actually try to fix and improve things.

    It doesn’t sound like the people mover is going to be post security, which is a huge blow to its usefulness for connections. I hardly use the SFO people mover because waiting for those slow trains is most of the time slower than just walking. I guess having it pre-security does help people who use LAX as their home base because the car traffic at departures/arrivals is insane with how busy LAX is.

  14. Getting to LAX at nearly any time of day is a nightmare. Using the FlyAway bus I’ve still sat in traffic 45 minutes just to get to Terminal 1. It’s ludicrous. If they properly utilize the proposed Ground Transportation Hub as planned (and maybe force taxis and ride-shares to use it, too?), I think this could really go a long way towards solving the traffic problem. Let’s just hope they have enough trains. As much as I dislike SFO for myriad reasons, I really can’t fault the SkyTrain it has. As will be the problem with LAX, I just with there was a better way to connect between terminals airside. But, baby steps, I guess.

  15. “for the dozen or so people in LA that use the subway, I guess”

    “I wonder if United’s Polaris Lounge at LAX will be open by then”


  16. The LAX people mover will connect to a new metro line. Overall I think this will be incredibly popular with tourists needing to get to SM, Hollywood and DTLA. Locals will use it just like locals in NYC, SF and other places.

  17. My understanding is that this is Phase 1 in a long-term plan to centralize security between all terminals. So this 3-stop train system is actually setting that up to be able to happen. This $$$ also includes consolidating all the rental cars lots into one area (currently they are spread around the area).

    For sheer convenience, yes, it would be nice if they had a post-security train; but one of my favorite sights is driving next to the runways in a bus close to airplanes when going from terminal to terminal. And the little selfish voice in the back of my head says making it easier to get into TBIT from the other terminals (I always fly out of T4 or TBIT) means the lounges in TBIT will be fuller. Although the new AA Flagship First lounge is stellar.

  18. As for the cost benefit of busses vs. a train, trains have lower operating costs

    Not true. The benefits of trains is that they can carry massive numbers of people. Otherwise, more expensive. That is why NYC subways work…massive numbers of people.

    There are not massive number of people taking LA public transit.
    The light-rail or “train” line under construction near LAX cannot feasibly be extended to the airport. This plan is similar to the systems in place at JFK and SEA
    Even in Seattle, the light rail train takes LONGER from downtown to the airport than the previous bus line.

    No, buses, even electric or CNG buses should be used until there is massive passenger numbers then a train.

    Trains are good for ignorant people because there is a big, simple diagram with the train line. Buses requiring reading a schedule or pdf.

  19. The LAX people mover will connect to a new metro line. Overall I think this will be incredibly popular with tourists needing to get to SM, Hollywood and DTLA. Locals will use it just like locals in NYC, SF and other places.

    Fat chance. As a tourist, I will drive.

    The problem with LA is that density is not there. Only rarely will I want to go from point to point, such as Disneyland to airport. Usually, it is a restaurant close by driving (too far to walk) or a tourist attraction that is not too big an attraction.

    If a car is rented, maybe not rent a car for 2 days to see the big sites, like Disneyland.

  20. I take MetroRail from 7th/Metro Center to the airport all the time. You can plan schedules to the minute, there’s no traffic, and it costs $4.

  21. @Eliyahu: I ride the metro in DC several times a week and have nothing against subways or their riders. The point I was trying to make was that for a city of its size, LA has low subway ridership (Metro Rail daily ridership is actually less than half of the number you quoted according to the American Public Transport Association). Sorry if you were offended.

  22. @debit. Hundreds of Thousands use the LA metro daily. I’ve been dozens of times. Red and expo lines get packed

    The billions don’t just include the train but a consolated car rental Center.

    Don’t you just hate people who moan about everything being a waste of money when it’s an improvement

  23. LAX needs to do a better job moving cars along, ticketing those who are waiting at the curb whose party has not shown yet. Came into TBIT around noon on Monday and it was a total cluster fuk. When there is an active police presence it works out much better.

  24. @Andrew – you’re missing the point of the people mover stop at the Metro. The real win with this is in accommodating LAX’s employees; not its patrons. Think of the time/money/congestion saved if a portion of the airport’s employees Metro’d to the airport.

  25. @Derek – I’d suggest standing at the Santa Monica Expo line station – the beach station – and see first hand how many tourists use transit. I think you might be surprised.

    Seattle’s rail to the airport is not like LAX or JFK. The bus used to be faster to the airport, but that is not always true anymore due to increased congestion on I-5.

    @Josh – you nailed the market for public transit to airports. It’s the employees.

  26. I recently moved to LA and take the metro when I can. Unfortunately it is a pretty limited system and it is often hard to justify over driving when you have a choice. Going from the airport to Downtown LA is pretty quick and easy though.

    The other problem with the metro in LA is because of the limited coverage, and the crazy fact that many of lines were built on the cheap as slow light rail lines instead of proper subways it tends to be disproportionately used by those who do not have a car and this leads to the metro in LA to be seen as “sketchy” which further puts off people(it is not sketchy imo but I partially understand where that view is coming from). I think this is a problem that is unique to LA and hopefully will improve as more lines are completed and the metro can attract a wider cross section of public.

    I will continue to use the metro as much as possible as I want LA to have a proper public transport system. It is definitely a better system than many people in LA, and perhaps this author, give it credit for.

  27. And I thought the $500M spent on Oakland’s BART connector was extravagant. They were pikers.

    Before, during, and after the project the fastest way into take public transit to LAX will be to exit the bus or car at Century and Sepulveda and WALK, yes WALK, to your terminal. It’s less than 5 minutes to Terminal 1. Airline employees know the drill and walk to Sepulveda all the time.

    The new train will be faster than buses from the current LAX Transit Center, but one experience with that waste of time will cure you. Just walk. When the train opens, let others take it and keep walking in from Sepulveda. You will beat them there every time.

  28. This seems like a good amenity for the airport, but $4.9 billion seems bonkers for a people-mover system. Why is it that expensive cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris can build whole subway lines for that price?

  29. Ok, I actually read the LA Times article linked and the construction cost will only be $1.95 billion. The $4.9 billion bid is for operation as well. That makes a bit more sense.

    “The group’s bid of $4.895 billion was 4% lower than airport officials’ estimates and $700 million lower than other bidders, officials said. It includes a construction estimate of $1.95 billion.”

    “About $3.8 billion of the costs to build and run the project will come from airport revenues. The LINXS consortium will issue tax-exempt bonds to pay for the rest of the project, and the airport will pay the financing costs, leading to a total cost of up to $4.9 billion, officials said.”

  30. Andrew: +2 on the hilarious Polaris comment. I do think it’s a damn shame they didn’t have a stop near that In N’ Out Burger. The Outrage!

  31. @Jerry, I’m curious how you take rail to the airport now.

    To LAX, you can take Silver line bus to Green light rail to airport shuttle. Very cheap, but still some traffic.
    To Burbank you can take Red Line to Burbank Bus. Probably less traffic, but takes about an hour from downtown.

  32. Angelenos: Will having a connection to the Metro make you more likely to use public transit to LAX?

    LOL no.

  33. Why this would cost 5 BILLION US Dollar is beyond me. Other countries build whole airports for that. Goes to show why California is such a fucked up state beyond repair.

  34. Haha at all the comments. I live in LA and work at LAX, and the current setup (taking a shuttle bus that sits in traffic from the Green Line) is the primary reason I do not take Metro to work. I earn a healthy income and I far prefer the predictability and lack of stress that public transit provides over driving through traffic. Until the people mover opens though I will continue to drive or ride my motorcycle to work.

  35. While $5B is a lot of money, if people bothered to actually read the article, they’d find that includes all operational and maintenance costs for some 25 years. Framed that way, I’m not sure that’s quite so extravagant.

  36. @ss: I made that mistake. Reading the article, construction costs will be $1.95 billion, not $4.9 billion

  37. Such a misinformed article. Andrew, you need to read about the new Crenshaw line to LAX and Green Line extension. There will be a lot of rail connections to LAX soon plus the off-site drop offs at this facility will basically totally revamp how people get to LAX. This is an awesome project.

  38. Personally, I like this idea in principle. a Disneyland-style Peoplemover has always been a great idea over short areas.

    My main question is, will this peoplemover connect up with the long term parking lots? That would make it much more viable: park at Lot C or similar, take the peoplemover to the airport terminals, no having to deal with the crowded parking lot buses. It would also cut traffic congestion if the parking lot buses went away in favor of the peoplemover.

    Finally, what’s with the theme building in that artist’s rendering? It was still mostly there the last time I went through LAX a few months ago. Are they dismantling it? I hope not. Its such an iconic part of LAX. It was a great restaurant once wayyy back in the day.

  39. The “logic” in this thread.

    “Buying a bunch of buses will solve the traffic problems and speed up the commute for a lower price!”

    “$5 billion is too much, lets wait another 10 years when it will be cheaper!”

  40. @Mr. Spock, there is logic.

    “Buying a bunch of buses will solve the traffic problems and speed up the commute for a lower price!”
    — — — — —
    Yes, require all car rentals to share buses. That reduces the traffic problem. Maybe have a remote site for hotel shuttles.

    Keep drop off the same. For pick ups, have more cell phone lots have free remote parking for 90 minutes and buses from the arrival level to free remote parking for pickups. People meeting others could also park in those free remote parking lots, go to the terminal to meet friends and family and having all of them go on the buses to the remote parking site.

    All cheaper than $5 billion, Mr. Spock.

  41. This project is great at twice the cost
    Construction extra expensive in high traffic 24/7 areas
    Have you seen flight and passenger projections for 2023? Plan for future needs not today’s. Lax making great moves here. Could actually become ok airport with great flight availability

  42. “for the dozen or so people in LA that use the subway, I guess”

    This is a flippant remark and shows how much you really don’t know about the grand scheme of Metro projects and ground transportation to/from LAX. Los Angeles is building new Metro rail lines, especially after Measure M passed. Once the Crenshaw line is built, you’ll be able to take the People Mover to the Metro and take one train anywhere from Torrance to El Segundo to Beverly Center to West Hollywood to Hollywood/Highland.

    You can also take the future Crenshaw Line to the Expo line, which is already built and will connect you anywhere from Santa Monica to USC to Downtown LA. With the regional connector, that gives you an easy connection to Pasadena and other Foothill communities. Or you can take the Crenshaw line to where it connects with the in-progress Purple Line Extension which will connect you to UCLA to Century City to K-Town to Downtown as well. Considering the breadth of LA, this is huge.

    The new metro stop will also make the bus to the Green Line obsolete and give easy connections on the train along the 105 corridor and connections to the Blue Line to Long Beach.

    Oh and by the way, from Pasadena to Downtown LA, standing room only on the Gold Line with the “dozens” of people on the subway, as I connect to the FlyAway Bus. I’m looking forward to the future and hope you educate yourself before you write more about LAX.

  43. People really don’t understand the different this makes in the overall efficiency of the airport. They anticipate the people mover will remove 8-12% of car trips from the roadway loops. Don’t think that’s a lot? If 1 in 10 of the cars that currently clog the LAX roadways was gone, you’d notice a massive difference. Further, the removal of those full sized buses each rental car agency currently provides will free up an incredible amount of road, as will the removal of half the FlyAway traffic (pick ups moving to the ground transport center) and the likely removal of Lot C buses. Combine that with the fact that L.A. public transport estimates ALWAYS come in lower than expected demand and you are talking about a serious uptick in efficiency and decrease in traffic.

    Oh, and that doesn’t even include the fact that the Fly Away bus service will benefit from greater efficiency as well, and likely increased service.

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