Is small vehicle transit to airports on the decline?

I live only five miles from an airport, but over forty miles away from a BIG airport—Los Angeles International Airport. And for those times in which I have to use LAX, it’s a bear to get there, and getting worse.

By EditorASC – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

It used to be that I could take a shuttle to LAX, and the shuttle would get me there most of the time. But my former shuttle service quit operations a few years ago (although it looks like it’s kinda sorta coming back).

I’ve never really been a big fan of the gig economy rideshare services, and it turns out that the driver’s aren’t big fans of them either, despite the favorable legislation that has been enacted in California. Uber and Lyft are experiencing what is called a “driver shortage,” which in essence means that the work isn’t paying enough to get people to return to it post-COVID. In other words, there’s no driver shortage that can’t be overcome by jacking up payments to those people who work “with” Uber and Lyft. Of course if the drivers get more money, the rates for passengers go up dramatically. (In effect, the model is not self-sustaining. But I digress.)

Of course, the rideshare services have already done their damage to the taxi industry. Taxi drivers had a lot of costs that rideshare drivers didn’t have, such as medallion fees. And those costs continued even as the pandemic reduced the number of taxi passengers to near zero.

So with fewer shuttles, rideshares, and taxis, the best way to get to LAX is to drive your own car.

But that’s changing.

[O]fficials gathered on the outskirts of [Los Angeles International] airport to break ground on a $900-million Airport Metro Connector project that by 2024 will link the county’s fast-growing rail network to a people mover system being built at LAX.

Yes, friends, in only three short years it will be possible to take a train to one of the largest airports in the country.

Never mind that it’s taken seven years so far (the project was approved in 2014) with another three years to go. These things take time.

This not only makes it easy for Los Angeles Metro riders to get to the airport, but users of other services such as Metrolink can also get to the airport more easily. Even way out here in Ontario, I have two Metrolink stations within three miles of my home, which means that I can get to LAX via car, Metrolink, and Metro. (And yes, there’s the FlyAway bus, but Metro trains run much more frequently.)

And perhaps if the mass transit systems aren’t decimated by budget cuts between now and 2024, Southern Californians will actually be able to get to our biggest airport without having to get in a car.

Meanwhile, it’s still a little difficult to get to my local airport using mass transit, and the ideas to improve the situation are frankly rather boring.

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