Why not Drive?


Why not Drive?

Upwards of a quarter of a million people will fly out of LAX today and most will get to the airport by private vehicle. They will either be dropped off, or they will park their car at one of the many thousands of spots both on and off airport. Some will wring their hands at the stupidity of these drivers, but I wonder.

What was their alternative?

I guess they could take a fly away bus, Uber or Lyft, or a taxi, but then what. For the bus, they have to get to the terminus either be dropped off or park. They then must schlep their bags to the bus, and get them loaded on the bus. They leave on the buses’ schedule.

As for Uber/Lyft or taxi, the cost can be more than parking at the airport, depending on their length of stay. Plus at LAX and many other airports, they are dropped off outside the airport and must take a shuttle to their terminal, thus loading and unloading bags a second time.

When I take a parking shuttle, the driver helps me with my bags at both ends and then drops me off a few feet from the skycap. I then take a short walk to my plane. I do it on my schedule, not one created for me by a bureaucrat at a bus or Uber/Lyft or taxi company.

More important, when I return, I want to go home, not wait for a shuttle, Lyft, or a bus, and then sort out my transportation at the other end.

I want convenience. I know the back streets to take to miss most of the traffic to the airport. I make a reservation to park so I get the cheapest cost and am ensured of a spot. I know how long its going to take me, and when I have to leave to catch my flight.

It would seem the airport agrees with me. LAX just built a 4000 car parking garage adjacent to the airport with fast shuttles to each terminal. Why would an airport build parking, if, we assume, they are really wanting you not to drive. I can think of one reason, they listen to their customers. And they customers tell them they want to drive.

I wish those who are in the traffic and the hustle and bustle of the airport all the best. This year we are staying at home. But those holidays when we had to be at two celebrations on the same day are still in my memory.

A happy and grateful Thanksgiving to you and yours


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. Why should we assume the airport doesn’t want people to drive? Many of the hurdles you mention could be made significantly easier to surmount if the airport spent a fraction of the time and energy it spends accommodating cars on helping people get to transit. I flew into LAX earlier this month and took the bus to San Pedro, last year I took the bus and train from San Pedro to LAX.

    Yes, both trips were longer rides than they should have to be, but they were comfortable and I was able to read and get work done during much of the ride.

    The worst part of both experiences was the built environment AT LAX which has little to no wayfinding, confusing closed pedestrian crossings with no prior notice. Dangerous crossings, inadequate sidewalks, etc.

    Making it simple and safe to get to the bus system, which is extensive, would cost a tiny fraction of the cost of a 4000 stall garage. Until now, with the upcoming people mover, the airport authority has made it clear how they want passengers to arrive, by car and paying for parking.

  2. Tony” The “People mover” connects the metro line which serves most of LA with the airport — along the way it picks up people from the parking garage and from car rental. So it seems the airport has cut the baby in half… I couldn’t agree with you more on the need for more and better bus and other services. However I would wait until construction is finished at LAX before condemning the environment at LAX



  3. I don’t believe the environment at LAX was appreciably better for pedestrians and transit riders prior to beginning construction of the people mover. Construction has caused some additional barriers, but how LAX chooses to accommodate pedestrians and mitigate the impacts of construction for people not using a car speaks multitudes.

    This also is by no means restricted to LAX, I make a habit of taking transit to and from airports and I can tell you, airport operators (nearly all of them) clearly want people to arrive in a car (or at best a parking or hotel shuttle). Even airports with rail service to the terminal in this country have poor way-finding, little to no information about upcoming arrivals for transit, and often make transit riders ride circuitous internal shuttle routes or walk to the edge of the airport or behind the parking garage.

    I’m not saying most people still wouldn’t drive, but we’re not even trying to make it a valid option for people.

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