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News / Transport & Travel

You won’t be able to summon an Uber from the terminals at LAX anymore

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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia/Michael Zara Theme Building

Along with jury duty and a trip to the DMV, we’d rank a drive through LAX’s main terminal loop as one of the absolute worst, most soul-crushing, “do I really have to?” chores in the city. So the latest traffic pattern change at the airport might actually bring some welcome relief—but at the expense of convenience.

Starting at the end of October, you’ll no longer be able to summon a ride with Uber or Lyft from the central terminal area at Los Angeles International Airport. Instead, you’ll need to board a shuttle bus that’ll take you to a parking lot next to Terminal 1, where you’ll then be matched with a car. You will, however, still be able to get dropped off directly in front of your departure terminal. 

The new pick-up parking area comes with an incredibly unfortunate, over-the-counter-laxative–sounding name: LAX-it. If you’ve been to the airport recently, you’ve probably noticed the space already: It looks like a small parking lot just outside of Terminal 1 with numbered posts to designate different pick-up zones. 

Travel industry site Skift first reported the news, which it says is a response to increasing traffic in the airport’s central terminal area. The number of passengers traveling through LAX has increased by nearly 50% over the past decade, bringing thousands of rideshare trips along with it—which accounts for about 27 percent of all commercial airport traffic.

Skift expects LAX-it to open by October 29, when a slew of other traffic changes that are slated to take effect: Buses and shuttles will be relocated to the inner curb of the arrival level, while rental car and private car traffic will swap to the outer island, and hotel and private parking shuttles will be restricted to the departures level.

The ride hailing procedure change comes amidst LAX’s massive overhaul, which includes an automated people mover that’s set to open in 2023. With that in mind, these changes might just be a sort of stopgap; when the people mover opens, it’ll shuttle passengers between terminals and to an off-site, centralized parking and rental car area, which we could easily see becoming the pick-up and drop-off point of choice for many passengers.

For now, though, the change seems like a mixed bag: Yes, it might help with airport congestion, but as a traveler it demolishes the door-to-door convenience of ride hailing apps. Then again, anybody who’s called an Uber or Lyft from LAX can tell you how unnecessarily frustrating and time-consuming that process often is. Oh, LAX… this is why we always try to fly in and out of Burbank.  

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