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As Transit Takes Off in LA, Making Sure LAX Doesn't Get Left Behind

A subject that has flummoxed transit advocates and planners in L.A. for decades is how to best connect to the city's largest airport. As planning advances for billions of dollars in transit projects, Yonah Freemark explores how best to make the link.
March 10, 2012, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Construction of the Green Line light rail came tantalizingly close to reaching the airport when it was completed in 1995. At the line's deceptively named Aviation station (for the boulevard), a free shuttle bus is required to complete your trip to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

As a result, according to Freemark, "just 1% of air passengers and 9% of employees arrive by public transportation. As a comparison, according to the most recent Census statistics, 7.1% of Los Angeles County residents take transit to work and 11.0% of Los Angeles City residents do the same. There is certainly room for improvement."

Now as planning advances for the the new Crenshaw light rail line, to be funded from the pot of money created by 2008's Measure R sales tax hike, planners are again struggling with how best to integrate the airport into the city's expanding transit network.

Freemark explores the alternatives now being considered by Metro, the transit authority, which, "has two fundamental options: Will it serve the airport directly with rapid transit service, or will it have its customers transfer to a people mover from which they will have access to terminals?"

With no easy answers and challenges on both the technical and funding sides, Freemark concludes that, "[n]one of the solutions proposed will significantly improve airport travel times for most people in the region, and none of them will get downtown within half an hour of the airport, a goal for most cities."

Clearly there's more work to be done to facilitate what may be the most important single transit connection in the city.

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Published on Friday, March 9, 2012 in the transport politic
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