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For passenger pickups at LAX, one more big change: the curb flip

LAXit
Traffic lanes on the lower level at LAX that are closest to terminals are now used exclusively by airport shuttles, including the new LAXit buses.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Passengers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport who expect to be picked up on the curb outside their terminal are out of luck. Pickup areas on the airport’s lower level have been pushed to the outer median in a change LAX calls the “curb flip.”

Taxis, Lyft and Uber are banned from curbside pickups at LAX, replaced by LAX-it, a new pickup zone, near Terminal 1. Here’s what you need to know.

“The inner lane on the lower level [where] you are used to picking people up became a dedicated lane for LAX shuttles only,” airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said Thursday. “It was repainted and restriped.” Changes were made on roads in the central terminal area overnight Tuesday.

Now, passengers should look for new signage on where to wait for their rides. Drivers coming to pick them up will find inner lane pockets they once pulled into blocked off by cones. The pickup stops are in the outer median lane (which Montgomery called “the new front curb”), where signs on pillars tell you what terminal you are pulling up to and where you are allowed to stop. Also, medians have been widened to accommodate more people, Montgomery said.

Lanes on the upper level haven’t changed, so passengers who want to picked up right outside their terminal should go up top.

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The changes are all part of LAX’s ban on curbside taxi and ride-share pickups that started Tuesday. Passengers now walk or grab a shuttle to a new LAXit waiting area east of Terminal 1 for their rides. Ride-share passengers are matched with an Uber or Lyft driver; others can grab a cab at the lot. The changes were made to ease traffic on the airport’s internal horseshoe road during the airport’s long-term construction project — and apparently it’s working.

Traffic on the upper level (where ride-share services once picked up passengers) dropped about 80% week over week, Montgomery said. Vehicle congestion also eased on the lower level. However, long lines formed in the LAXit lot on Wednesday, with some passengers saying wait times lasted more than an hour. The airport issued an apology Wednesday, noting the problem was caused by high passenger volume complicated by Uber and Lyft drivers who were confused by the new system.

The long-term answer to LAX’s traffic woes is a $4.9 billion Automated People Mover that will connect travelers directly to airport terminals, with pickup and dropoff areas outside the congested central terminal area. It’s expected to be completed in 2023.


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