Starting on or about Oct. 29, travelers won’t be able to hire a driver to pick them up in the terminals. Instead, they will have to catch a shuttle to a designated area. It’s a new police aimed at easing congestion in the terminals, but critics deride it as major hit to the industry and an inconvenience for travelers. LAX officials defended the controversial plan Friday, saying the move is necessary to ease what is becoming an increasingly jammed traffic situation at the airport.
But the move is being met with skepticism by the transportation- service companies, with a taxi-driver association calling it a likely “mortal blow” to an industry already crippled by ride-hailing services. The outcry reflects the struggles facing the ride-hailing industry as well the congestion choking trave in and out of Los Angeles.
Keith Wilschetz, the airport’s deputy executive director of operations and emergency management, told reporters that unless some action is taken, the line of vehicles trying to get into the LAX Central Terminal Area will continue to worsen.
“By 2022, the average sunny day is going to be exactly the same as the day before Thanksgiving,” he said.
In an effort to combat that trend, beginning at 3 a.m. Oct. 29, the airport will no longer allow taxis or ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to pick up passengers in the terminal area. Instead, passengers arriving at the airport will have to take a shuttle bus to a nearby pickup lot, dubbed LAX-it.
Wilschetz said the shuttles will have a dedicated traffic lane in the terminal area, ensuring passengers will never wait more than five minutes for a shuttle, and the ride to the lot will take a maximum of 15 minutes.
He stressed that ride-hailing and taxi companies can still drop off passengers in the terminal area. The new system applies only to pickups. Wilschetz said people arriving at the airport can still order their Uber, Lyft or taxi rides when they get their luggage at baggage claim, and their car will be waiting for them when they arrive at the remote lot. He also noted that passengers will no longer have to cope with the traffic in the Central Terminal Area once they are picked up, since the remote lot will put them right on Sepulveda Boulevard.