The days of ordering a ride-share pickup directly to the airport terminal are over at most major airports in the United States. Airports have started to ban ride-share pickups at the terminal due to heavy traffic congestion at the terminals. Most notably, LAX or Los Angeles Intentional Airport, has banned all rideshare pickups at the terminal siting heavy congestion as the primary reason for the ban.
So now that rideshare pickups have been banned at the terminal at LAX, how are passengers supposed to get a ride directly from the airport? I’m glad you asked. LAX has implemented a new system referred to as LAX-IT. This system has a bus that runs throughout the terminals to pick up passengers every 5 to 15 minutes, depending on if it’s a high-traffic time or not. Once the bus comes to pick up passengers, it will take the to a designated lot for rideshare pickups. There are four lanes for all of the rideshare drivers to park and await their passengers. Most say that this is a 15 to 20-minute process to get from the terminal to the rideshare pickup lot. This begs the question, is this really the most efficient way to deal with rideshare pickups?
Traffic engineers say that the maximum number of cars that LAX airports system can handle, per day, is 100,000. With the increasing popularity of rideshare pickups, that number was increasing exponentially and overwhelming the airports system. LAX is the second busiest airport in the United States, second to Atlanta. Being the busiest airport, you would expect infrastructure to accommodate the large number of people departing and arriving at the airport each day, however that is not the case. LAX does not currently have any type of rail system or alternate pickup system, therefore all passengers will end up departing by car. This leaves the pickup and drop-off oval severely congested.
According to sources, the implementation of this new system at LAX, and other airports with similar rideshare pickup systems, did not go smoothly.
The system was confusing for most passengers and caused backups at the pickup lots
Some passengers had wait times of up to one hour just to catch a ride from the airport. The primary question a lot of riders have when using the new LAX-IT system is when to order their Uber or Lyft for their pickup? Do they order when the exit the terminal or when they actually get to the rideshare lot? Many say to order when you get to the rideshare lot because the bus system to get there can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes. If you ordered your Uber or Lyft when you exited the terminal, you would be paying for your ride to idle and wait for you to arrive.
Parking Lot Pickups
The other problem this system presents is finding your ride when you arrive at the lot. With four lanes of rideshare traffic, it is difficult for passengers to locate their ride.
Uber and Lyft typically only give you the type of vehicle and license plate of the vehicle sent to pick you up, which when there are hundreds of vehicles in line can make it difficult to locate the rideshare vehicle sent for you. Many are having to call their drivers to find out which lane they are in and where they are located, causing a backup in the system that was supposed to be more efficient.
There is also a rising problem with costs for rideshares booming at LAX and other airports due to the new implemented systems. The first reason there is a price increase is because there are fewer drivers willing to pickup at the airport because of the hassle of using the new system. With fewer drivers available, prices of course increase due to supply and demand. Rides that used to be fairly affordable are skyrocketing in price. Some reports say that prices have increased by over 150% for the same ride. The other reason prices are going up is due to wait times. The longer your Uber or Lyft has to wait to pick you up, the longer they are on the clock charging a premium. If you make the mistake of ordering your rideshare to early, it could mean paying for your driver to sit and wait for you to arrive.
The best advice for travelers who plan to use rideshare services at their arrival airport is to do your research ahead of time. These new rules are affecting many airports, not just LAX. Check the airports website and the website of the rideshare service you plan to use. All of the rules will be posted for your convenience. Making sure you know the airports rules on where you can get picked up will make a significant difference. Make sure you are informed and your travel plans should go smoothly.