Who doesn't want an easier way to get to the airport?
And yet, somehow, many rail-to-air connections in the U.S. fail to satisfy the general population.
Riding the wave of interest in public transit, the City of Los Angeles is working to see if it can improve the connection between its underused light rail system and its famous, heavily-used airport.
Much of L.A.'s population supports the project, and several plans have been submitted over the last two decades. Yet nothing has materialized, owing to a larger-than-life sticker price and a lack of a cohesive plan.
Yonah Freemark writes at The Transport Politic:
This year, L.A. Metro planners are performing an alternatives analysis on the corridor with the goal of selecting a locally preferred alternative for the route in 2013. All but the most basic route would require more funding than the $200 million currently available, so there is no guarantee that the project will be built this decade; even so, the airport will likely contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in airplane landing fees to the line, so something will probably be built eventually.
In Los Angeles, city planners face the cart-before-the-horse problem that stymies so many infrastructure projects: everyone agrees too many people in the county drive, yet no one wants to pay for the transit infrastructure to replace it -- nor use what's already there. (Just 1 percent of air passengers and 9 percent of airport employees arrive by public transportation; citywide, only 7.1 percent of county residents and 11 percent of city residents use public transit.)
In his post, Freemark runs through various scenarios, none of them optimal: from light rail adjustments to a "circulator" to bus rapid transit, all far more costly than the $200 million the city has on hand for such a project. ("There are no easy answers," he writes. You can practically hear the sigh.)
It's clear Los Angeles needs an upgrade. But the proposals leave something to be desired, and the competition -- the private car, convenient and quick -- is hard to beat.
Illustrations: LA Metro