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Public transit has changed. Here’s how it can still get you to LAX

Illustration of bus with Christmas ornaments
(Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

This story is part of a package on holiday travel.

Are you turning to public transit over the holidays? Be prepared for bus and rail services to operate less frequently or sometimes not at all. Ridership has dropped dramatically during the pandemic, which has led to schedule changes. What else is new? Masks and social distancing are required on all modes of transportation below. Extra cleaning protocols have been added, which you can find detailed on the respective websites. Here’s what you need to consider before you go:

  • Metrolink trains, which serve six Southern California counties, have been running limited service. On the holidays, trains will operate on Sunday schedules. You can purchase a $10 all-day pass for holiday travel. For contactless travel, buy tickets from machines at all 62 stations. Also, check the website (metrolinktrains.com) to see how full your train will be in case you prefer to travel at a less-crowded time.
  • Metro buses and light rail operate on revised schedules too because of fewer riders. For example, you can still take the C Line (formerly the Green Line) to Aviation Station and then a bus to LAX for $1.75 between 5 a.m. and midnight. Frequency has changed however; trains run every 12 minutes during peak times and every 20 minutes in the evenings. Before you go, check routes and times for any bus or rail line at Metro Trip Planner Some stations have hand-sanitizer dispensers for passengers.
  • Long- and short-haul bus companies are running during the pandemic with new protocols. Greyhound asks customers to spread out on the bus when possible, and face coverings are required while on the bus or in terminals. Use an e-ticket on your mobile device to allow the driver to scan tickets more easily. Some stations have been turned into “bus stops only.” Greyhound will waive change fees through Jan. 31 as long as you let them know at least a day before your departure date. Check the website for station closures or modified hours.
  • Flixbus provides service from L.A. to Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco and Phoenix, as well as other destinations in the country. Seats at the front near the driver will not be sold for COVID-19 safety. Also, staff members will instruct passengers how to get on and off the bus with social distancing in mind. Check schedules in case operations change.

More on traveling this season

  • The LAX FlyAway Bus operates from Van Nuys and Union Station, but service has been dropped from Hollywood and Long Beach. Check the website for operating times. Passengers will find the bus leaving LAX on lower/arrivals level where you see blue columns marked with FlyAway. Tickets cost $9.75 each way.
  • If you park your car at LAX, budget Lot E is closed. That means paying more to park at central terminal area lots that charge $40 per 24 hours, with the first 15 minutes free. Popular parking lots nearby will shuttle you to and from LAX for free. Reserve in advance at the Parking Spot at 5701 W. Century Blvd. and 9101 S. Sepulveda Blvd., $19.50 to $22.75 per day; and Wally Park at 9700 Bellanca Ave., $18.95 to $22.95 per day. Both offer discounts if you reserve/pay online in advance. Some parking lots have reduced capacity on shuttles, require riders to wear masks, have hand sanitizers onboard, are cleaned more frequently and follow other COVID protocols. Check with individual lots online to see their COVID practices.

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