- The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to advance exploration of a plan that would give travelers priority at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) security checkpoints, if they arrive by public transit.
- The vote directs Los Angeles World Airports, the authority that oversees LAX, to write a report on the feasibility of establishing such a program. Under the motion from Councilman Bob Blumenfield, the priority entry could apply to people arriving by Metro rail and buses, the LAX Flyaway bus and privately-operated scheduled bus services.
- Boston’s Logan International Airport implemented a similar plan in May 2019, and within months ridership on the Logan Express bus from the Back Bay doubled compared to the previous year. Fares for that bus also decreased.
As traffic at LAX has increased in recent years — passenger volume boomed from 63.7 million in 2012 to 87.5 million in 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times — the airport has explored strategies to reduce congestion, such as eliminating curbside pickup for Uber and Lyft. The airport is also constructing an automated people mover to help with congestion, but it will mean cutting some 30% of inner-lane curb space currently used for pickups and dropoffs.
Blumenfield told Smart Cities Dive that his proposal is part of an "ongoing effort to promote transit and be smarter about how our city operates, while dealing with the existing problem of heavy congestion at LAX." He added that the "common-sense proposal" has received mostly positive reviews, despite some grumbling from people who don’t want to be cut in line.
"Congestion is so bad at that central terminal that if we can get more cars out of there, it not only helps the people taking transit, but also those who have to drive through there for whatever reason," Blumenfield said.
Details of the plan — including what transit will be eligible for the privilege and how it would work — still have to be discussed, if LAX deems it viable. At Boston’s Logan Airport, passengers get a special voucher that gives them permission to bypass security lines. The program has been so successful that it was extended to ferry and water taxi passengers, and transit officials are considering other dedicated express bus routes, according to the Boston Globe.
The plan also comes as Los Angeles is working to overhaul its notoriously car-focused transportation network ahead of the 2028 Olympics, both to accommodate more visitors and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The city’s Vision 2028 plan calls for improving bus travel speeds, increasing opportunities for rail transit and improving connectivity across modes.
Mayor Eric Garcetti also signed an executive directive this month to kick off action on a Green New Deal plan that includes a commitment to increase transit speeds 30% by 2028.