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FlyAway Service to LAX Will Be Added at Union Station

Nonstop shuttle buses to airport will be offered from new park-and-ride site in downtown L.A.

January 24, 2006|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

As part of a plan to reduce traffic around Los Angeles International Airport, officials Monday approved a park-and-ride that will offer nonstop bus service from Union Station downtown to LAX.

The Union Station FlyAway, scheduled to open March 15, is the first of eight park-and-rides that the city's airport agency hopes to open over the next decade to provide a mass transit option to LAX. Officials also are considering locations in Chatsworth, Inglewood, Long Beach and Sylmar.

About 72,000 people are expected to use the FlyAway in 2006, although officials said that is a conservative estimate.

The park-and-rides will be modeled after the successful 30-year-old Van Nuys FlyAway, which has reduced traffic to LAX by thousands of vehicles a year. More than 18 million people have used the park-and-ride since it opened in June 1975.

At Union Station, travelers will park for $6 a day on the lower level of the Gateway Parking Garage and catch a bus at Patsaouras Transit Plaza. Tickets will be $6 round-trip for adults and $3.50 for children ages 2 to 12. Air-conditioned buses will run in both directions every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and every hour from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who heads the board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, promised to open the park-and-rides as part of a deal with airport-area communities to end their lawsuit over the $11-billion LAX modernization plan. In the settlement, the city also shelved that plan.

The FlyAway expansion program also is designed to lessen increased noise, traffic and pollution expected when construction begins on the southernmost runway at LAX this spring.

To run the Union Station FlyAway, the city's airport agency signed a three-year agreement with the MTA to use 500 parking spaces, a kiosk to sell tickets, and portions of the transit plaza for bus pickup and drop-off. The MTA is scheduled to vote on the deal later this week.

Airport officials said the Union Station park-and-ride will be cheaper than taking a taxi or limousine service from downtown Los Angeles to LAX and could be quicker, since FlyAway buses can use carpool lanes.

"If we could get 600 people a day on the bus, that would be less people on the freeway," said Valeria Velasco, vice president of the Airport Commission, which signed off on the service Monday.

The city's airport agency expects people who live and work downtown, as well as commuters who go to Union Station on the Metro Red and Gold lines, Metro bus service, and Metrolink and Amtrak rail services, to use the FlyAway.

The airport agency will subsidize the FlyAway, which is expected to cost $4.1 million in its first year, including bus operations, maintenance and marketing.

The MTA will keep the proceeds from passengers who park in its garage. Transit officials said they expect an average of up to 100 cars per day to use the parking structure to access the FlyAway, which could earn the agency more than $200,000 a year in additional parking revenue.

If the Union Station FlyAway to LAX is successful, airport officials said, they hope to provide express bus rides to Ontario International Airport, which also is operated by the Los Angeles airport agency.

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