Operations

Luxury Operators Retain Crucial LAX Terminal Access

Martin Romjue
Posted on May 15, 2019
An artist's rendering of the temporary shuttle lot for TNC and taxi passengers under construction east of Terminal 1. (LAWA photos courtesy of Paul Haney)

An artist's rendering of the temporary shuttle lot for TNC and taxi passengers under construction east of Terminal 1. (LAWA photos courtesy of Paul Haney)

LOS ANGELES --- Southern California operators licensed to pick up and drop off passengers at Los Angeles International Airport will keep their vital terminal accesses during a major four-year construction project that will create an elevated people mover system in the central terminal area (CTA).

As of Sept. 3, when new airport ground transportation rules take effect, luxury ground transportation operators and TCP-licensed commercial for-hire vehicles can continue to pick-up arriving passengers on the lower-level CTA loop, while transportation networking companies (TNCs) and taxicabs will have to retrieve their riders on a revamped lot just east of Terminal 1. Those passengers will be deposited by continous shuttles collecting them up from the nine terminals surrounding the CTA.

LAX-it On The Way

The temporary CTA ground transportation plan established by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), called "LAX-it" as a play on "exit," was disclosed May 15 during a meeting of the Greater California Livery Association at The Proud Bird in Los Angeles.

"This is good news for us in that it keeps the status quo," said Paul Haney, a former LAWA official who is a consultant for two groups partnered with the GCLA on LAX issues. "We've been working with LAX for the better part of nine months."

GCLA President Mo Garkani told LCT he and GCLA representatives met with LAX officials April 24, where they received news of the transportation plan. "This is great news. We would have lost half our business if we'd had to go to an outside lot."

The breakthrough resulted from the GCLA coordinating with the Affiliate Transportation Association (ATA), a non-profit trade and lobbying group set up to work with LAWA, and Advocates for Fairness in Transportation (AFT), a political action committee. Both groups are led by Cheryl Berkman, CEO of Los Angeles-based Music Express; David Seelinger, CEO of EmpireCLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services, based in Secaucus, N.J., with operations in El Segundo; and Michael Fogarty, President of Addison Lee Group North America based in Mahwah, N.J., with operations in Los Angeles. Berkman serves as president of ATA, with Seelinger and Fogarty as vice presidents. The group also gets advice and support from consultant Haney and Jonna Sabroff, a consultant at EmpireCLS and a former Los Angeles area limousine company owner.

Relief And Opportunities

For the area's luxury ground transportation industry, the plan means they keep the critical convenience of their door-to-door service for arriving clients, including those farmed-in worldwide from affiliates of Southern California-based operations. It could also bolster the appeal of chauffeured service among TNC and taxi customers who want to avoid the shuttles to the satellite pick-up lot.

GCLA board director Mark Stewart and consultant Paul Haney detail LAX ground transportation changes at a Greater California Livery Association meeting in Los Angeles, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (LCT photo)

GCLA board director Mark Stewart and consultant Paul Haney detail LAX ground transportation changes at a Greater California Livery Association meeting in Los Angeles, Tuesday, May 14, 2019. (LCT photo)

"Traffic is off the charts at LAX," Haney said while presenting a power point detailing the new plans. "Traffic has increased 42% since 2012 and construction impacts getting underway will really compound the problem. There will be rolling lane closures and curb space taken out of service."

Eight major construction projects as part of the CTA upgrades and people mover construction will close critical portions of CTA roadways through 2021. At the peak of construction, 38% of CTA curb space will be unavailable to vehicles. Based on CTA traffic statistics, an average summer day in 2022 will exceed the worst day of traffic in 2017, which was the Thanksgiving period, Haney said.

"The solution is what they are calling LAX-it. What this means is if you are leaving the airport in a TNC or taxi, the new operation will apply to you. They had to do this to get some of the traffic out of the CTA and take account of the lost curbsides." If plans proceed on schedule, the first day of the new transportation patterns will be Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day.

TNC & Taxi Shuttles

To accommodate arriving TNC and taxi passengers, LAWA will deploy five 24/7 shuttle routes among the inner curbs of the nine terminals using 36 dual floor, low floor, ADA-compliant CNG buses that can carry up to 28 passengers. Shuttles will have five-minute headways with an average travel time of 15 minutes, with two-minute maximum stop times at no more than two stops per route.

Walking times from the terminals to the satellite TNC and taxi lot will range from an average of three minutes from Terminal 1 to 19 minutes from Terminal 4.

Traffic on both levels of the LAX central terminal area (CTA) will be a challenge during the construction of the elevated people mover and related projects during the next four years. (LAWA rendering)

Traffic on both levels of the LAX central terminal area (CTA) will be a challenge during the construction of the elevated people mover and related projects during the next four years. (LAWA rendering)

Operator Challenges

Commercial vehicles, including limousine and chauffeured vehicle services, motorcoaches, and van services, will only be allowed to use the outer curbs on the lower level where LAX plans to implement traffic control and direction. Rental car and hotel shuttles will pick up arriving passengers on the upper departure loop.

Departure level drop-offs for luxury ground transportation and other for-hire vehicles will remain unchanged.

"It's going to be a very tough negotiation on that second outside (lower level) curb once this thing is implemented," said Mark Stewart, a GCLA board director and former president who serves as the chairman of its legislative/airport committee. "Obviously they will have so-called passenger traffic control assistance with the passengers getting onto the shuttles."

Airport officials plan a mass publicity and information campaign during the second or third week of August to inform LAX passengers of the ground transportation changes, Haney said. "They will use all channels available to educate the public."

"Overall we are pleased with results, but also aware it will be tough out there for the next several years," Haney said. "Construction impacts and changes will put this on par with what they went through before the 1984 Olympics with construction going on in 1982-83 in the CTA. It was pretty scary getting to and from the airport."

The airport will also see a temporary loss of parking deck spaces to accommodate construction crews. "You might not always be able to do baggage meets," Stewart advised GCLA attendees. "You should pass on to your clientele, teams, and chauffeurs this will be a continuous issue, and inform your clients there may be times when you will have to do spur of the moment curb meets."

The GCLA will be updating its members of further developments throughout the summer.

Related Topics: Advocates For Fairness In Transportation, affiliate networks, Affiliate Transportation Association, airport rules, airports, California operators, Greater California Livery Association, LAX, limo associations, Los Angeles operators, Mark Stewart, Mo Garkani, Paul Haney, regulatory enforcement

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