The main office for my company is in the LA area, so Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is among my most frequent destinations. There is always some level of LAX Chaos, but as with all things, some planning can help mitigate it. While many parts of the airport have improved over the years, some are still a mess. A recent trip through there reminded me of what a mess it still is much of the time. I often say that like hospitals and universities, airports are perpetually under some state of construction. There have been some definitely improvements at LAX over the years, but there is much more that is needed.
Getting to LAX is a pain
I’m not really a fan of renting cars, but often it can’t be avoided, especially in LA. When that happens I’m usually stuck with Hertz, which my employer compels me to use. Renting at LAX is an already unpleasant experience, with offsite rental lots. On my last trip, thanks to traffic, it took 30 minutes to get from the Hertz return area to the airport terminal for departure. I generally don’t get to the airport very early. Thankfully I did on this last trip, since I rarely budget so much time to get from to the airport from the Hertz lot.
The traffic loop around LAX has long been a mess, but it seems to be getting even worse. Now, rental car shuttles only go to the lower level arrivals area, so the buses are crammed with people coming and going. In theory, this might make things more efficient, but it didn’t seem very fast to me. Each stop is a scrum with people trying to get on or off the buses along with their bags. Less buses on upper level dropping off, but the lower level was even more jammed.
Of course the 405 freeway near LAX is one of the busiest stretches of highway in the US. So even getting to the the airport from the area is often difficult. There is still minimal public transit options into LAX, which is a shame, although this should improve as the Landside Modernization Access Program (LAMP) opens in 2024. So it is 5 years away…
The LAMP should ease some LAX Chaos
The concept behind the LAMP project should ease the crush of traffic entering the terminal loop. There will be 2 Intermodal Transportation facilities built, both connected to an automated people mover. In theory, people can get picked up/dropped off at either of these locations, thus lessening the mess in the terminal traffic loop. Will people be willing to get in a train before hopping on a shuttle to their hotel or an Uber/Lyft?
On the right of the above image is a consolidated rental car facility, currently under construction. Completion is currently scheduled for 2023. Scheduled n the same time frame is the Automated People Mover (APM), denoted by the blue line above. Trains like this work great in other airports. As a frequent visitor to LAX, and almost always having to rent a car, this seems like a significant improvement.
More information on the APM is available in this informative (if overly positive) video:
These plans look promising, but the bulk of the improvements are several years away. Much of the motivation for this project is likely to support a crush of visitors for the Olympics in 2028. As a frequent passenger at LAX, I hope these changes are tangible improvements for travelers and things are easier for anyone experiencing LAX.