By: Kaitlin Hwangbo
Photography by Axel Koester via the Daily Breeze
LAX banned rideshare services like Uber and Lyft from curbside pick-ups on Oct. 29. “LAX-it”, pronounced “LA exit”, is a new, designated pickup area where rideshare services are required to go in order to pick up their passengers.
Los Angeles International Airport, commonly referred to as LAX, is the country’s second busiest airport. On a global scale, it is the fourth largest airport by passenger count. Due to its size, congestion is a primary concern.
“We reach capacity every day, and it backs up in the neighborhoods,” said Keith Wilschetz, the Deputy Executive Director of Operations and Emergency Management at LAX.
LAX has a maximum capacity of 100,000 cars, and rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft account for 27% of all vehicles. Uber has asserted that at peak times, around 500 rides are requested per hour from LAX.
Frequent fliers in and out of LAX are no strangers to rideshare services picking them up by the curbside after long flights. However, because of extreme congestion, LAX has installed a new system.
Getting from any terminal to “LAX-it” is made convenient with a free shuttle that picks up passengers every three to five minutes. In efforts to make the shuttle times faster, LAX is designating the inner lane of the arrival area for buses only. For family or friends picking up their loved ones, they will need to stay between the inner and outer lanes. The option to walk is also open with “LAX-it” as there is at most 20 minute walk from every terminal.
“The shuttle system will be incredibly efficient and reliable,” said Wilschetz. He also says that the shuttles can handle a total of 700 passengers coming off of two A380s landings at the Bradley Terminal.
“LAX-it” itself has multiple amenities, including bathrooms, phone charging stations and food trucks that stay open from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. The “LAX-it” lot can hold 2,600 vehicles an hour, but rideshare services, including Uber, raise concerns that the space is too little. However, airport officials stated that they have done enough “extensive traffic modeling” to guarantee that there will be enough space.
Many people have negative opinions about the new ban claiming its inconvenience.
“The Central Terminal is horrible at certain times of the day, and it can take an hour to get out of the airport,” Wilschetz said in response to the backlash.
He asserted that “LAX-it” actually saves rather than wastes time as a result of the system’s efficiency.
“There’s a psychological barrier to having to take a shuttle to an Uber. It’s just a hassle,” said Harry Cambell, a publisher on the Rideshare Guy website, when discussing the underlying basis of preconceived opinions.
With the new designated lot, it is predicted that traffic along the terminals will decrease by around 15%.
In light of the 2028 Olympics, LA is focusing on convenient transportation, especially within the airport. In addition to “LAX-it,” an elevated airport train is being constructed aimed to be finished in 2023.
The “LAX-it” designated pickup area is predicted to remain in place until the elevated airport train is completely constructed.