EL SEGUNDO (CBSLA.com) — The Metro Board of Supervisors voted Thursday not to build a light rail line directly into Los Angeles International Airport.
Members favored an off-site location more than a mile away from the terminals. Travelers would then have to take a bus to get to the airport.
Many travelers said an off-site location would be inconvenient.
“We live in Sydney. There is a train directly from the airport to the city. It’s easy, easier than here,” said LAX traveler Ernesto, who was traveling with his family from Australia.
CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Dave Bryan spoke with LAX traveler Ernesto and his family, who were waiting with their bags on the curb so they could take a shuttle bus the remaining mile to the airport. They say public transportation to and from the airport is much easier in other major cities.
So is the prospect of a single and convenient train to the airport dead?
“Well, no, I don’t think it’s dead. I actually don’t agree with that characterization there. I think that the options that are still on the table very much embody a direct link for light rail into LAX,” according to Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of LA World Airports.
The Metro Board made it clear it’s in favor of a Metro rail terminal outside of the airport, where passengers have to get off the train, check their bags and take a people-mover.
“Then if we combine all of those transportation modes in one place, in a wonderful building, with the ability to check your luggage and get your boarding pass at that building, and then you make one transfer to an automated people-mover system and come in to any terminal you like,” Lindsey said.
LA Congresswoman Janice Hahn says she’s surprised and disappointed the Metro Board is dismissing the plan for a Metro rail station under LAX.
“I think we’re making a big mistake. This is a short-sighted decision. This is common sense: if we are going to have a first-class city and airport in Los Angeles, we have to connect the rail lines directly into the terminal,” Hahn said.
Critics such as Hahn suggest that, for a region where tourism and hospitality are major economic engines, transportation officials should want to make it easier to get around.
“The international visitors that land at LAX, how do they figure out how to get from LAX to Downtown LA? To Orange County? To Union Station?” Hahn said.
One traveler told Bryan LAX transportation was a bit of a “let-down.”
Supporters of the off-site station plan say cost and feasibility played into their decision. It would be half the cost to build the station away from LAX and digging under the airport can create problems. They say LAX is so spread out that, even if the rail line extended to the airport, travelers would have to use people-movers to reach their terminals.