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CALIFORNIA

End to LAX bus service advised

L.A. airport panel says Westwood FlyAway line from UCLA is operating at a loss.

May 30, 2011|Martha Groves

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has recommended discontinuing the $5-per-trip Westwood FlyAway bus service to Los Angeles International Airport because it is operating at a loss, but UCLA and its students are trying to negotiate a way to save it.

"The FlyAway bus provides an absolutely critical service to UCLA students," student body President Emily Resnick said in a statement.

"Without this service, thousands of students will no longer be able to go home for holidays or other important events."

LAX spokeswoman Nan- cy Castles said the service to and from Westwood has operated at a cumulative loss of about $8.5 million since its launch in June 2007.

The buses have attracted about 111,000 riders in the current fiscal year, fewer than half of the hoped-for 232,000, Castles said. That means that Los Angeles World Airports, the city department that owns and operates LAX, L.A./Ontario International and Van Nuys Airport, has subsidized the service this fiscal year to the tune of about $9.30 per passenger.

"Demand is stagnant," she said.

Usage has been hampered by the lack of parking at the FlyAway stop on Kinross Avenue, just west of Gayley Avenue.

Renee Fortier, director of UCLA transportation, said Friday that the campus had proposed measures that would make the service more economical. They include the availability of park-and-ride space in UCLA's Structure 32 pay station area; schedule and fare modifications; a campus contribution for extra bus service during holiday periods; and assistance with marketing.

She said the airport agency's staff would share the recommendations with commissioners at the board's June 6 meeting.

Fortier added that UCLA planned to increase the number of on-campus resident students by more than 2,500 in the next couple of years. Students represent the largest group of Westwood FlyAway passengers.

"We are very hopeful that the board will take into consideration this near-term increase in potential ridership, as well as the campus' offer to provide park-and-ride space and to financially contribute to support the service, and will choose to modify rather than cancel this service, which is so valuable to the community," she said.

martha.groves@latimes.com

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