Traffic Trouble Ahead: Why Getting to LAX is Only Part of the Battle

What to Know

  • The I-Team found that the number of vehicles entering LAX has skyrocketed over the last two years

  • Last year, Lyft and Uber drivers were permitted to pick up a new passenger as soon as they dropped someone off

  • Traffic apps like Waze or Google Maps will only get you to the airport entrance, where the real challenge begins

Getting to Los Angeles International Airport to pick someone up or make a drop-off is only part of what’s often a frustration-filled traffic battle, especially during the holidays.

Keep in mind that traffic apps like Waze or Google Maps will only get you to the airport entrance, where the real challenge begins — navigating the increasingly infamous horseshoe-shaped road that takes drivers on a stop-and-go crawl to parking areas and pick-up and drop-off points at each terminal.

The I-Team found that the number of vehicles entering LAX has skyrocketed over the last two years, due in large part to Uber and Lyft services that the city once hoped would ease congestion. There was an increase of 10 million vehicles at LAX from 2012 to 2017, much of it starting in 2015 when the city allowed ride-sharing services to operate at the airport.

Photo credit: KNBC-TV

Last year, LAX granted Lyft and Uber drivers permission to pick up a new passenger as soon as they dropped someone off, which means they can stay in the central terminal area without going to a lot off airport property to wait for their next ride request. 

Rideshare use is generating serious revenue for the airport. Uber and Lyft pay $4 each time a driver enters the Central Terminal Area. Profits amounted to $9 million in the 2016 fiscal year. This year, it’s multiplied near five times to $44.3 million.

Photo credit: KNBC-TV

LAX officials declined an on-camera interview with NBC4, but said in a statement that the money goes to the airport’s general fund, which is used to support day-to-day operations. They said the airport is working with ride-share companies to find ways to reduce congestion.

Upcoming renovations included an automated people-moved, but that won’t be ready for at least five years. 

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