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How to handle the new LAX Uber, Lyft and taxi pickup system

Christopher Reynolds explains how to catch a taxi, Lyft or Uber at L.A.’s busiest airport.

The rules for pickups at LAX are changing at the end of this month, so I took a walk at the airport and made a video to help you work the new system. (There’s also juggling.)

If you count on Uber, Lyft, Opoli or a taxi to take you home from the airport, they will not be able to pick you up at the terminal curb anymore. Instead, after your plane lands, you’ll need to walk or take a free shuttle bus to a new ride-hailing and taxi pickup area just east of Terminal 1. It’s called LAX-it.

Starting Oct. 29, curbside pickups for Uber, Lyft and taxi rides will be banned. Travelers leaving LAX will need to board a shuttle bus to a parking lot next to Terminal 1 to catch a ride. Drop-offs at the curb will still be allowed.

As the video shows, walking may be a good option for anyone with light luggage who is arriving at Terminal 1 or 2. (Southwest passengers, that includes you.) The walk from Terminal 1 took me three minutes and was fewer than 300 steps.

The walk from Terminal 4, the terminal farthest from LAX-it, took me 21 minutes. (American Airlines passengers, that’s you.)

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Based on walking speed of 2 mph, LAX officials have estimated that it will be an eight-minute trek from Terminals 2, 7 and 8. From Terminals 3, 5, 6 and the Bradley International Terminal, walk times are likely to be more than 10 minutes but less than 20.

If you want to take a shuttle bus to LAX-it rather than walking, you will make your way to the curb on the arrivals level in front of your terminal, wait up to five minutes for the shuttle to arrive (so LAX officials say), then ride it for up to 15 minutes (no more than two stops) to the LAX-it area. The new LAX-it buses will share a lane along the arrivals (lower) level inner curb with Flyaway, parking lot shuttle and terminal connector buses, whose routines will otherwise be unchanged.

The new buses will be ADA-compliant, but the airport also has its own ADA shuttle, and LAX officials vow there will be customer service agents at each shuttle stop to help with access and luggage.

Meanwhile at LAX-it, Lyft, Uber, Opoli and taxi drivers will queue up to collect passengers, and LAX officials say passengers will have access to restrooms, benches, shade and food trucks.

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These changes affect passengers flying into LAX. Taxis and ride-share vehicles will still be allowed to drop outbound passengers at the airport’s departures level.

These changes also will not affect buses serving hotels, rental car companies, airport parking lots and other off-airport operators, except that drivers may now have less traffic to worry about. The same goes for private cars.

The new system will take effect at 3 a.m., Oct. 29, airport officials said. It is expected to remain in place through 2023, when airport officials plan to open a new Automated People Mover rail loop connecting a central passenger collection point, the horseshoe of LAX’s terminal area and a new rental car center.

The change matches similar moves at airports nationwide as officials cope with the increasing popularity of ride-hailing services.

LAX officials say traffic in its central terminal horseshoe area has worsened dramatically because of three factors: the burgeoning number of ride service vehicles collecting and dropping off passengers, the increase in the number of flights serving LAX and the construction of the new LAX light-rail system, which will require an increasing number of lane closures in the year ahead.


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