The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of the number of passengers it accommodates. More than 87.5 million people visited LAX just last year, and while it is one of largest airports in the world, it is also ranked as one of the worst, due in no small part, to the constant traffic and construction, according to the most recent J.D. Power’s North American airport survey.
And as the number of guests using LAX has risen, so too has the number of vehicles collected at the Central Terminal Area. In order to combat this, LAX is replacing curbside taxi and rideshare pickups with a dedicated pickup area called LAX-it later this month. The new area is designed to offer travelers and guests a convenient, amenity-rich, centralized area to await a pickup, while also serving to reduce the rampant traffic that normally accumulates.
“Anyone who has come to LAX knows that traffic in the Central Terminal Area can get rough, and we have heard from our guests that the current system with ride pickups can be frustrating," said Keith Wilschetz, deputy executive director for operations and emergency management, Los Angeles World Airports.
“LAX-it will provide an easy, efficient experience for guests using taxis and ride apps, and reduce overall traffic in and around the Central Terminal Area for all those driving to and from LAX and our neighbors."
Switching to a central pickup point is expected to remove about 15% of all vehicle traffic from the Central Terminal Area. Without this change, the traffic in the Central Terminal Area would continue to become more congested, with increasing impacts on neighboring communities as a result of traffic backing up on surrounding access roads.
With the opening of LAX-it, guests who are using taxis or ride apps for pickup will have a better experience, while those who are being picked up by friends or family, or taking other shuttle buses to their destination, will benefit from the reduction in traffic within the Central Terminal Area.
Accessible by either a short walk from many terminals or via a dedicated shuttle from the airport’s terminals, LAX-it will reimagine the pickup process for taxis, Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services by providing additional amenities such as restrooms, benches, umbrellas for sun and rain protection, and local food trucks. LAX-it will offer connectivity, with cellphone charging stations and WiFi. Dedicated staff at LAX-it will also provide passenger assistance and lane management on-site.
This is just the latest in a series of measures LAX is taking to reduce the impact of traffic while work continues on its $14.3-billion capital improvements program, which includes the modernization of all nine terminals; construction of the new Midfield Satellite Concourse; and a new 2.25-mile Automated People Mover with a total of six stops, including a Consolidated Rent-A-Car facility, two intermodal transportation facilities, and connection to the regional rail system.
LAX-it will come into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and will remain in service until the proposed Automated People Mover opens to the public in 2023. LAX-it will only be for pickups, as rideshares and taxi drivers will still be able to continue to drop off passengers at the terminal curbs on the Upper/Departures Level.