Update (1/2020): We just released a brand new report examining the recent ridehail changes at LAX – you can read more about it here.
You may have heard about the horror show that is LAX-it (pronounced LA Exit). Passengers waiting to grab their taxi, Lyft, Uber, or Opoli waiting hours, drivers struggling to get into the lot – by all assessments, it was an unmitigated disaster. This is a temporary project, as the airport is currently undertaking a major renovation, which has pushed taxis and ridesharing companies into an external lot.
Of course, ‘temporary’ for major airport renovations is a relative term – this renovation is supposed to last until 2023. According to LAist, “LAX does not have an in-airport transportation system. This is supposed to change by 2023, when airport officials plan to open a rail system called the “Automated People Mover” (APM). The APM will connect the terminals directly to the Metro Rail system, as well as an offsite dropoff/pickup location and transit hub, and a consolidated rental car facility.”
Basically, you can expect LAX to be some sort of headache until at least 2023, so if you’re planning any trips to or from LAX in the next 3-4 years, you’ll want to bookmark this page!
Luckily, things are getting a lot better for LAX-it. The first week was, as mentioned, a disaster, but it’s apparently gotten a lot better, as evidenced by this tweet below (remember, ‘a lot better’ is relative when it comes to the world’s 4th busiest airport):
My #LAXit experience 2 weeks after the changeover.
20 minutes from Terminal 4 to Uber pickup.
The good news is it’s not a COMPLETE shit show anymore.
— Zoli ⚡️ (@zolihonig) November 12, 2019
Getting into LAX is not as much trouble as getting out, as you can still take an Uber, Lyft or taxi directly to the airport. However, getting out of LAX is a lot trickier. Here are your best options for escaping from LAX without having to wait hours.
Your Best Way to Get Out of LAX: Curbside Pickup
One of the least troublesome ways to get out of LAX will be curbside pickup, something you can still do if you choose an UberBlack or UberSUV option. Yes, this will cost you a little more (from LAX to Hollywood, UberBlack will run you $95 and SUV will run $118), but you would get curbside pickup.
Another option is a private car service like Swoop, where you can request an SUV and get curbside pickup as well. For a 6 person capacity SUV for an afternoon pickup from LAX to Hollywood, you can generally expect the price to be competitive with UberBlack or UberSUV. One added bonus of Swoop over UberBlack/SUV is that there’s no waiting for drivers to exit the staging lot and head your way – just request a Swoop ahead of time and it will be waiting for you!
Take an Uber or Lyft
You can, of course, still take an Uber, Lyft, Opoli or taxi – you’ll just have to walk and/or take a shuttle to get to it. If you’ve arrived at LAX and don’t want to pay for curbside pickup but still want to use rideshare, simply walk outside your terminal and board one of the green LAX-it buses heading toward the pick up lot.
Depending on which terminal you’re coming from, the shuttle could take anywhere from 7-15 minutes and walking from 8-19 minutes, according to LAX. Of course, once you get there, you may wait in line for a driver, depending on how many people have also de-planed with you and how many available drivers there are.
Take the Express Bus Service: FlyAway
If you’re willing to wait a little bit, you could save a lot of money taking the FlyAway, an express bus shuttle serving four LA-area destinations (Union Station, Van Nuys, Hollywood, and Long Beach). This will run you only $8-9.75 each way, depending on the route, and two kids under 5 can travel for free per adult.
To catch one of these shuttles, look for the FlyAway signs and keep an eye out for one of the four buses. All FlyAway buses are wheelchair accessible and offer free WiFi onboard.
Take the City Bus
A little appreciated transit option is the city bus! There are several options that will get you to and from LAX with relatively little hassle, including the Metro Green Line, which runs close enough to the airport that LAX runs a shuttle service for it.
The Metro Green Line offers a quick connection to the Metro Silver Line, which takes you into downtown Los Angeles. Another option is the LAX City Bus Center, just outside of the airport, which offers connections to several bus lines operated by Metro, Culver City Bus, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and more.
Getting there is fairly straightforward: take the City Bus Center/Lot South shuttle (pink zone) for a quick ride to the bus center. Fares range from $1 to $1.75 per ride, although if you connect from the Green Line to the Silver (to go into downtown LA), that will cost a little more ($2.50).
Ask a Friend
If you happen to know someone well enough in Los Angeles to ask them for a ride, this might be another good way to get around all of the LAX-it mess. Passenger dropoffs should be easy, and even passenger pickups have gotten easier – they’re now on the outer curb.
Whether or not this is free or ends up costing you depends on your relationship with and level of guilt you feel asking this person to pick you up. Only you can decide if this truly is the ‘cheapest’ option!
The Hacker’s Way
The final and most questionable method involves you taking the first hotel or rental car shuttle you see upon exiting the terminal. Obviously these shuttles are intended for customers of those services but if you tip the driver a few bucks, they are known to look the other way.
Since these shuttles take you off airport grounds, you can request a ride as you’re approaching the hotel or rental car facility and you’ll avoid the $4.00 airport fee that is tacked on to pick-ups at the LAX-it lot.
If you’re not planning on flying in or out of LAX for years, this guide isn’t for you. But if you are planning or could possibly find yourself in LAX in the next few years, it’s going to literally pay off to know which LAX-it option is right for you. Sometimes, you may prefer convenience and request a Swoop ahead of time, whereas other times you may find yourself preferring the shuttle.
Will passengers prefer convenience over price? From our experience, passengers still prefer cheap over easy, so even if you’re not an UberBlack or SUV driver, you can still expect to see plenty of ride requests. Just be prepared – your passengers may be grumpier than usual, or you may experience delays getting into the driver queue. Just keep calm – and listen to a positive audiobook!
LA drivers, what have been your experiences with LAX-it so far?
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-Melissa @ RSG