a car parked on a road

Los Angeles International Airport, universally known on t-shirts as LAX, is not often ranked as one of the most loved airports in the world. One instant reason for that: insane traffic between terminals. The passenger pick up and drop off area is built like a horse shoe, and you must wait in loads of traffic to go from one terminal to the next, in numerical order, which can take nearly an hour at its worst.

The airport is attempting to change that, but at the same time, they’re instantly ruining the experience for all passengers, with a plan to ban curbside rideshare and taxi pick ups, and instead make people take a shuttle bus to a rideshare and taxi waiting area. And yes, taxis count too.

It’s beyond amusing to think of a Hollywood A-lister hopping on a public shuttle bus and cramming in with the masses for the journey to a central taxi and rideshare pickup area, but it’s a lot less amusing when it’s you. Being able to land and quickly tap a ride, having it meet you curbside right on time is a huge perk of travel in the USA, but LAX Airport is attempting to change that. Traffic has reached new highs, or lows, depending on how you look at it.

On October 29th at 3AM, a ban on curbside pick-ups will take force, and all passengers will be forced to instead wait for a shuttle bus to a centralized ride share area, somewhere far away from the LAX terminals to then connect with their rideshare or taxi driver. Banning rideshare is one thing, but a ban on taxis as well makes this a dumb and dumber situation.

a sign on the groundAccording to Brian Sumers at Skift, the move is in direct response to rapidly growing passenger traffic, with 87.5 million passengers flying through last year, and nearly 26,000 rideshare rides each day.

New Yorkers may remember a similar measure at LaGuardia (LGA), which was in effect while major construction to bring the airport closer to third world standards hampered traffic lanes. It was utter chaos, and loved by quite literally no one. A similar walk still exists, but a walk and a rammed shuttle bus are two very different things.

A ban on taxi and rideshare picks ups is expected to be long lasting, with major construction ahead of the 2028 Olympics forthcoming. In years to come, a tram system is expected to connect terminals seamlessly, but in the hours, days and months before then – it sounds like headaches all around.

All I can say is that it really makes me want to strike gold and use The Private Suite more often. The Private Suite is an entirely separate complex on the other side of the airport, where you clear security in private and then are chauffeur driven in a private car directly to the airport. It beats the bus to the Uber…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. “Even if you’re the first terminal, your driver must then wade through endless traffic in the next 8 to get out, which can take nearly an hour.”

    FYI – The first part of this sentence is incorrect. There are two, well-marked, shorter loops that allow drivers to bypass the main loop if they’re going to the first or last couple of terminals. You only have to traverse all eight terminals if you’re going to the international terminal and those adjoining it. Second, it has never taken me nearly an hour to make that loop in 25 years, even on holiday weekends, but given how bad LA traffic can get, I won’t go as far as to say it has never taken anyone that long.

  2. Usa is a shitbag. If you had good public transportation options people could choose those.

    Gas guzzling idiots ( let’s stereotype and call them white Republican males) of decades past that wanted to sell more cars and more gasoline screwed this country.

  3. USA is not an sbag. When it generates $60,000 per Capita gdp for 350 million people and when California, with a far smaller population than the Uk has a bigger economy than the Uk, we get to have things, such as three cars to a family. Yes, the cars do create traffic, but especially in a gigantic city like LA, they are a fact of life. And they are very handy when one has three suitcases filled with stuff that our more advanced economy affords us.

    As for someone who lives in Los Angeles, I do take public transport to LAX when traveling lite and options for this exist.

    Please check your hate at the curbside.

  4. I get it, it does take about 15-20 min to get to Bradley, at the bottom of the U do to the horrendous traffic. But what astounds me is the refusal to extend the subway to the airport and wait another decade for a “people mover.”

  5. Hold on, the new rideshare pickup lot is just outside terminal 1, easily walkable for 1,2,7 and 8, and doable from the entire airport on a nice day. Along with this, they are streamlining the upper and lower level pickups such that traffic should flow better, making your shuttle bus faster. This is a positive move in my eyes, and LAX is my home airport.

  6. “On October 29th at 3AM, a ban on curbside pick-ups will take force, and all passengers will be forced to instead wait for a shuttle bus to a centralized ride share area”

    Very misleading statement. The ban is on ridesharing vehicles and taxis, not private pick-ups. You can still be picked up curbside by someone, just not the aforementioned services.

    “Being able to land and quickly tap a ride, having it meet you curbside right on time is a huge perk of travel in the USA”

    Have you ever been to LAX? An even more misleading statement. “Curbside” is technically correct, but it’s not the curb outside the terminal (that’s where the shuttle buses are) – it requires walking to a specific spot where an overwhelming number of people and cars are trying to connect with one another. And “on time” and timely are not the same thing. The driver may be “on time” (rarely my experience) but that’s because the app already told you it would take them a significant amount of time to arrive.

    If you have friends, family, or a private driver to pick you up, this will make that experience faster and easier by dramatically reducing the number of cars in the airport (at least 26,000 fewer cars every day, according to the stats).

  7. You complain about the traffic at LAX due to increase of ride share apps but when they’re trying to come up with a solution, you complain about the inconvenience of them allowing less cars. You can’t have it both ways. And it’s not a ban on ride share. You’re still allowed to ride all your terminal to get dropped off and pickup is at a designated spot. Stop misleading people.

  8. Easily walkable from T1, 2, 7 and 8? Maybe if you have no luggage.

    I’m not a fan of the way that LAX has handled construction — everything seems to change daily. However, and I am surprised that I am defending them, LAX has an excellent email service that can apprise you of changes in construction. Sign up here: https://www.lawa.org/en/connectinglax/construction-traffic-advisories

    Also, I’m not a fan of this idea, but LAX needs it. I’ve reached out via Twitter to LAX asking them a few questions. Been surprised at the speed of the response and the responses. See below. I think we all need to hold LAX to their promises. If they fail to meet up to them, we should all barrage them.

    Tweet 1: (I asked) “How many buses will you be running? When does the reduced schedule come into effect and how often will buses run”. Their (incomplete) response: “Shuttles will arrive every 3 1/2 to 5 minutes! We have enough buses for the worst possible day of traffic/passenger volume”

    Tweet 2: (I asked): “Curious if you will reserve some buses to start picking up passengers at farther away terminals eg 5, 6 and 7. Otherwise the buses could easily get filled at T1-4 and leave passengers at 5, 6 and 8 waiting and waiting and waiting. Please advise.” Their response: “You are correct! Buses will run different routes and won’t stop more than twice each!”

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