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LAX ban on taxi, Uber and Lyft curbside pickups irks passengers: ‘It’s inconvenient’

An Uber driver waits for a customer at Los Angeles International Airport
Ride-hailing pick-up location on LAX departure level is crowded with passengers Friday morning. LAX will soon ban ride-hailing companies from picking up passengers outside its terminals.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Mary Cate Haley was waiting for her hired car at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday morning after a flight from Dallas when she learned that the convenience of catching a ride at the terminal was about to end.

Starting on or about Oct. 29, travelers looking to catch a ride from the airport in a taxi or with Uber or Lyft will have to take a shuttle or walk to a parking lot next to Terminal 1, where they can then book their rides.

“It’s inconvenient,” said Haley, 28. “I get why they would do that, but that’s the last thing I want to do: get off a plane, then go down and take a shuttle.”

The decision is in response to worsening congestion at the airport, which is in the midst of a $14-billion overhaul of its aging road network and terminals. In recent months, construction has required LAX to close some lanes.

New parking lot for ride hailing companies
A view of the new parking lot, next to Terminal 1, for ride hailing companies.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)
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And because airlines have been adding routes, more people are coming to the airport in general. Passenger volume increased from 63.7 million in 2012 to 87.5 million in 2018, according to LAX officials.

The impending loss of curbside taxi and ride-hailing services did not sit well with travelers interviewed Friday.

“It doesn’t sound great,” said Kristi Nichols, 23, an engineer who travels frequently for work and to visit family.

She said that once the change takes effect, she’ll be less inclined to use services such as Uber or Lyft at the airport and instead will try to get picked up by family or book other transportation, such as SuperShuttle.

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“I think it’ll be a lot less convenient, and it will probably take a lot longer to get home,” she said.

With the change, passengers can expect to wait three to five minutes for a shuttle. Officials say the trip to the new pickup location should take no longer than 15 minutes. The airport plans to reconfigure its lower level to give shuttle buses unimpeded access around the central terminal loop.

Travelers also will be able to walk to the ride-hailing lot, officials said. Doing so will take about 18 minutes from Terminal 4, the farthest terminal from the lot.

Although passengers were less than pleased, some ride-hailing drivers said the new plan makes sense.

“You should see Monday mornings, trying to get into the airport,” said Lyft driver Jorge Ferran, 63. “It’s horrendous.”

He said he hopes the new designated area will help cut down on congestion.

“I understand they’re trying to deal with the traffic, and they need to come up with a long-term solution. That will be the people-mover,” he said. “In the meantime, while they’re building the people-mover, it makes sense to have a designated area and shuttle people back and forth. It will make people happy because right now, they’re just waiting for an Uber or Lyft, and it takes some time.”

By the end of the month, travelers looking to hop on an Uber or Lyft will instead be taken by shuttle to a nearby lot, Los Angeles airport officials said.
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