LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles World Airports today said the 50% expansion of its LAX-it pickup lot has resulted in minimal wait times for travelers looking to get out of the notoriously busy Central Terminal Area, and that traffic on surrounding streets flowed smoothly.
About 2 a.m. Wednesday, the LAX-it lot was expanded by 50%, with Lyft vehicles being moved entirely into the expansion area, and Uber adding Lyft's former pickup lanes into its pickup area, according to LAWA spokesman Heath Montgomery. Taxi services also now have additional space with the expansion, airport officials said.
Airport officials said LAX-it users experienced usually less than 10 minutes.
LAX has been working to tweak the system since it opened, responding to complaints from some passengers about issues catching shuttles and then waiting in long lines at the LAX-it lot to pick up a taxi or ride-hail vehicle. Taxi drivers have complained about being forced away from terminal curbsides, saying the curbside service was the industry's main competitive advantage over the ride-hailing companies.
Some taxi drivers complained that they were forced to wait in extensive lines of vehicles waiting to get into the pickup lot.
The LAX-it lot was conceived to make room for ride-hailing services and taxis, as it goes through major construction of its CTA.
But it also put an end to Park 'N Fly at LAX, as they can no longer pickup passengers curbside and weren't fitted into the LAX-it plan. The Los Angeles Times reported that the company told customers in an email Wednesday that it was shutting down its LAX operation, remaining open only for customers who needed to retrieve a parked car.
“Please know that this is not our decision, and the airport has decided to take over our facility,” a recorded message at the Park 'N Fly office in Los Angeles told callers.
The Times reported that one customer, who had prepaid for a ride on Wednesday, arrived at a seemingly abandoned Park 'N Fly service station.
On Tuesday, Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that manages L.A.-area airports, told a Los Angeles City Council committee that difficulties were expected with the transition to the remote lot, but she said the system is improving.
“We knew from other airports' experiences that have moved ground transportation in response to major construction or to the evolution of the more intense ground transportation, that this was going to be complicated,” Flint told the council's Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee.
“Week one was a significant challenge for us,” she said. “We have made significant changes from learning, not just learning from the team at LAWA, but learning from (ride-hailing services) in how to navigate.”
LAX provided a by-the-numbers analysis:
--On Tuesday, at the start of week two of operations, wait times for taxis, Ubers and Lyfts “never exceeded 10 minutes,” airport officials said, with a majority of wait times coming under 5 minutes.
--The average LAX-it shuttle trip from leaving LAX-it to picking up passengers, loading and returning to LAX-it is now consistently under 11 minutes.
--The LAX-it shuttle fleet expanded to 43. Shuttles are deployed based on travel schedules and traffic.
--As LAX-it has been expanded, construction of the new lot was undertaken and completed within three days, and the new lot opened “ahead of schedule.”
--A dedicated route for Lyft vehicles was created to enter the new dedicated Lyft area of LAX-it, and an additional lane was added ride-hailing services and taxis to enter their area of LAX-it to improve the flow of traffic into the lot.
--LAX-it has reduced an average of 17,338 vehicles per day through its CTA.
--LAX-it has increased drivers' speeds on the upper level by 13% and on the lower level by 2%, and outside of the airport, speeds have increased by 16% from Interstate 105 to LAX.
Airport officials said ongoing improvements will continue to see an increase in speed and a reduction in traffic.
Photo: Getty Images