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It sounded simple enough. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) had become increasingly congested with rideshare pick up and drop off traffic, so the airport planned to change things up. A plan was devised to build a rideshare lot away from the terminals, where passengers could connect with their Uber and Lyft rides via an airport shuttle bus…

Just two days in to the new scheme, it appears to have backfired. Some might say, an epic fail.

According to the LA Times (worth a read), passengers were quoted stating that their wait for a shuttle bus was longer than their flight into LAX. It was supposed to run every 3-5 minutes, but overcrowding and other issues created wait times over an hour. That’s not a great start.

To make matters worse, there wasn’t enough capacity in the actual Uber/Lyft rideshare waiting lot, so even after passengers waited up to an hour for a shuttle amidst overcrowding, they had to wait again for their rideshare to arrive in heavy traffic.

Hot tip: pad plenty of time into your meeting schedule if you’re flying into LAX in the next few weeks.

In theory, a passenger should land, fire up their rideshare app and be told to head to “LAX-it” the incredibly clever name for the new rideshare lot away from the terminal. They would then follow signs to the busses which shuttle passengers away from the terminal to said lot, and off they would go in under a half an hour. So far that more theory than actuality though…

Perhaps the classic adage of “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” applies here.

LAX was never a dream in terms of traffic, even before the emergence of Uber and other rideshare platforms, but it was a known level of chaos. This new system at least in its infancy, is an unknown level of chaos, with the spanner of uncertainty. Curbside rideshare pickups weren’t perfect, but they were better than this, and certainly didn’t take hours…

Maybe the right question is: how did they not see this coming? Surely an airport with the size, scale and importance of LAX would run models to simulate how traffic would flow on a quiet Tuesday at the airport, before actually unleashing its new plan. To the airport’s credit, it has since apologised for “unacceptable” wait times.

Critics say the worst has yet to come though, with Friday expected to be a key traffic day with up to double the volume. Hey, at least you’ve got a great story for the check in agent…

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