LAX Is Getting the One Improvement It Needs Most
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
The City of Angels can seem downright hellish if you’re a traveler. If you go to Los Angeles, there isn’t really a good way to get around the city if you arrive at LAX Airport. There is not a public rail system that’s easy to use, and to use a ride-share like Uber or Lyft, you’re looking at serious money to get anywhere somewhat touristy. But alas, help is on the way — just give it seven or eight years.
When you rent a car at LAX, it can be a true nightmare. I’ve endured this fiasco a couple of times. Let’s pretend you arrive at LAX on Southwest, which flies into Terminal One. Once you exit the terminal and make the walk to the curbside pickup spot, you then have to wait 10 to 20 minutes for the correct car rental shuttle to come along. And it seems no matter who you rent from, there are always two or three shuttles from each competitor passing by before your ride arrives.
I’ll be conservative here and say we only had to wait fifteen minutes at the curb. You’ve now been on the ground a half hour, factoring in the time it took to park the plane, get off, and walk to the curb. Now comes the really fun part.
The terminals at LAX are one big loop. Once you board at Terminal One or Two, there’s a very high chance that your driver will be stopping a few more times to pick up additional customers. If you were smart when you boarded, you sat near the door of the shuttle bus, so you can be first off when you arrive. As I type this at 5:45PM Pacific Time on a Monday afternoon, Google says the drive to Avis, Hertz or Enterprise is is about 2.5miles away, adding another 10-12 minutes.
By the time you’ve arrived at the appropriate rental facility, you’ve now been on the ground about fifty minutes, considering the drive around the terminal loop and the trek to the rental facility.
I love Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle for its consolidated rent-a-car (CONRAC) facility. I go there often, because Boeing is based there, and I can always be in my car within thirty minutes. There is a short shuttle bus ride required, but it’s very close to the airport. Many airports have these now. Austin and New Orleans are among those I have visited recently.
The LAX CONRAC will be a godsend. It is slated to be built on a 136-acre site, and be connected directly to the terminals by a new 2.5 mile-long automated people mover system. Part of the $5.5 Billion Landside Access Modernization Project (LAMP) has been allocated to consolidate the existing twenty facilities. Deputy Executive Director of Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Cynthia Guidry said, “We want to do something that not only improves the way our airport flows but also makes life easier for passengers as we recognize that the guest experience often starts way before setting foot on the airport. It should ensure that when people get to any one of our facilities, whether this is the consolidated rental car complex or a drop-off location a mile away, they will feel like they have arrived at a wonderful airport.”
"We are one step closer to bringing rail to LAX and making it easier to get in and out of the airport — all while easing traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods," said Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti. "This $5-billion project adds to the continuous effort to transform LAX into the world-class airport Los Angeles deserves, and this strategy to deliver the automated train and rental car center will help us finish these projects on time and on budget."
The LAMP also includes the building of a new 12-gate satellite concourse in the middle of the airfield. A secondary $8.5 Capital Improvement Program is also ongoing, and includes construction at American’s, Delta’s and Southwest’s terminals. The entire LAMP project is scheduled to be completed by 2023 — in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, for which the city of Los Angeles is bidding.
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