After a chaotic week, LAX to expand Uber, Lyft and taxi pickup lot

Travelers wait for Uber rides in the new LAX pickup lot
Travelers wait in long lines for Uber rides in the new pickup lot at Los Angeles International Airport.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Following days of complaints over long lines and long waits, Los Angeles International Airport will significantly expand the new pickup lot for Uber, Lyft and taxis, officials said Monday.

The change comes six days after the nation’s second-busiest airport banned Uber, Lyft and taxi pickups from the curbside and moved them to a new pickup area called “LAXit” (pronounced “L.A. Exit”). Travelers must board a shuttle bus or walk to the pickup area to catch a ride.

The rollout of the system was rocky, leaving some travelers facing gridlock, packed shuttles and long wait times for rides during peak periods. Officials later apologized for the delays, which they described as “unacceptable.”

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The pickup area will expand at 3 a.m. Wednesday, increasing the space for cars and people in the lot by roughly half, airport officials said.

Lyft’s cars will move into the expanded area, and Uber will take over Lyft’s former area in the original lot. Taxis will also have additional space to load passengers, officials said.

Airport officials said in a statement that the expansion was a “pre-planned contingency to allow quick response to changed traffic patterns and behaviors.” The hope, they said, is that the changes will allow Uber and Lyft to “more consistently supply cars and drivers.”

Before the new system launched, Uber officials warned that the lot did not have enough capacity and could cause long lines and traffic jams.

Uber, Lyft and taxi pickups were banned from the curb in an effort to address the infamous congestion in the horseshoe-shaped terminal roadway.

The move was necessary, the airport said, because an increase in passenger travel and two major construction projects — an overhaul of the aging airport and the construction of an airport train — will cause significant curb and lane closures.

On the first Sunday evening of the new system, airport officials said they observed “significant improvement” in the traffic in the terminal area and on surrounding roadways compared with the previous week, despite a slight increase in passenger travel.

The pickup system will remain in place until LAX finishes building the elevated airport train, known as a people-mover, which is scheduled to open in 2023. It will arrive every two minutes and will whisk passengers between the terminals, a car rental facility, a ground transportation hub and a Metro station.