Change is coming to one of the busiest airports in the world: Starting at 3 a.m. on October 29, Los Angeles International will begin making arriving passengers hop on shuttle buses to a parking lot next to Terminal 1 to meet their rideshare and taxi drivers, according to Skift.
The reason? Traffic. In August alone, 26,000 rideshare cars—like Ubers and Lyfts—used the airport’s roads every day, and a $14 billion construction project ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics has meant the closure of pickup and drop-off lanes, reports KABC, a local Los Angeles station. The result: masses of cars crawling through the terminal area, with up to 45 minutes in travel time. (Curbside drop-offs will still be allowed.)
“We understand that trying to get into the central terminal area is a challenge and has been for a long time, and we’ve been working to make that much better,” said Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director of the Operations and Emergency Management Division at Los Angeles World Airports, according to the Los Angeles Times. “This is a way we can do that.”
According to Wilschetz, upon arrival, travelers will see wait times of around three to five minutes for a shuttle bus, with a travel time of 15 minutes total. Passengers who aren’t interested in waiting for a shuttle can also walk to the parking lot, which officials say is roughly 18 minutes by foot from Terminal 4, which is farthest away.
LAX, whose passenger numbers increased from 63.7 million in 2012 to 87.5 million in 2018, is not the only U.S. airport to change its pickup approach. In June, San Francisco International implemented a new rideshare pickup zone, and Las Vegas’s McCarran International (among others) makes travelers walk to a parking garage to meet their rides. Up next, Boston Logan International Airport will begin moving pickups for app-hailed rides to its Central Parking Garage, reports Curbed.
There’s no word about how long this policy at LAX will remain in effect, but a long-term solution seems to be on the way: As Michelle Baran reported for AFAR in November 2018, one of the most promising elements of LAX’s overhaul includes the addition of an Automated People Mover (APM).
An electric train system, the free-to-use APM will have three airport stations and three non-airport stations. It will also connect to a “short- and long-term parking facility that will double as an airport pickup and drop-off area, all of which should lead to many fewer cars trying to get directly to the terminals.” An estimated 30 million people will use the service each year. The catch? It isn’t slated for completion until 2023.