A recent Times article on LAX’s new LAX-it ride-share program (Christopher Reynolds, Oct. 29, online) didn’t mention the astronomical wait times, which in many cases are more than two hours.
My company is in the ride-share industry, so I was curious when I arrived the evening of Oct. 29, the day the program debuted. But I was unprepared. The wait time for a Lyft (after 10 to 30 minutes getting to the lot) was more than two hours. Uber was just about an hour. Taxi drivers were furious.
I skipped the long ride-share lines (after counting bodies and talking to folks) and took a $130 taxi to Orange County (at two to three times the cost). A red-letter day for my taxi driver? Nope. “It’s not good for me,” he said. “A 90-minute wait to get to and through the lot and then likely no fare home. I’ll lose 2½ hours’ work.”
Stories and photos on Twitter confirm it has not improved. The airport is failing to propose meaningful change and is promoting partial data and avoiding the true issue: terminal-to-car total times. Passengers have no idea how long a wait is until they make the trek to the lot. They don’t see wait times even then; only how many people are in line, and the bad tempers attest to how people are reacting.
LAX’s message translates to “give it time,” but tweaks and adding people in vests don’t fix poor design.
What can LAX do?
•Un-reinvent the wheel.
Learn from other high-volume airports like Chicago’s O’Hare and Atlanta by:
— Providing multiple designated ride-share pickup locations.
— Maintain the Uber/Lyft specific car-hailing system so there’s no mystery and disappointment over wait times.
— Segment the lines (i.e., locations 2(a), 2(b), 2(c) so several pickups are happening simultaneously, versus one at a time).
•Temporarily waive the $4 airport pickup fees.
•Add additional LAX-it lot(s), even if temporary.
•Put taxi pickups back in the loop even if only temporarily to clear the congestion.
•Move the LAX-it lot(s) completely off property if needed.
One of the main benefits of ride-sharing is five- to seven-minute wait times and knowing your total wait and trip time before selecting a car. People choose their transportation based on that very data. LAX-it has eliminated almost all core ride-share benefits including choice, convenience, predictability and speed.
There’s zero chance I’ll use the system until it’s proved to work well. I already do the cost-benefit math and time when choosing my airport. For someone to take a connection even from Orange County versus a nonstop LAX flight? The extra 1½ hours it takes to get a Lyft/Uber home from LAX takes away any advantage LAX had — and without the discomfort and frustration of shuttles, walking and waiting in the cold or heat and the inability to predict when I’ll get home.
Easy choice to use another airport. Less time, less stress and, unfortunately, less revenue for LAX.
Consumers pay the price
In the “On the Spot” column about auto rental fees (“Car Rental Sticker Shock? A Few Tips to Ease the Pain,” Nov. 3), Christopher Reynolds notes the “sour” fact that California taxes on fuel are high and that the cost of this fuel in the state is higher than elsewhere.
But he ignores the fact that the price is higher in large part because California oil companies have a chokehold in the state on refineries that produce the cleaner fuel we need to live here. These refineries/oil giants have for decades charged much more per gallon for their fuel than is charged elsewhere. This charge is not the cost of the special fuel. Production is also regularly shut down, creating “shortages” that excuse them when they raise prices.
The state has investigated these practices but has not acted. Please at least note that cleaner fuel is worth it and that corporate greed is a major factor in our high gasoline pricing.