New LAX people movers on track for 2023 completion with new car debut
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
The end is in sight for a project that leaders hope will cut down on traffic outside one of the nation’s busiest airports.
Construction crews are nearing completion of the multibillion-dollar project to significantly upgrade public transportation at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
LAX unveiled the first of 44 cars that will comprise the highly anticipated Automated People Mover system early last week. The last steel beam of the APM was set into place atop the West Central Terminal Area station last week.
These two significant developments herald the final testing stages of the project, which is slated to debut next year.
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The new system, which TPG first reported on in its early stages in 2018, has been under construction since its groundbreaking in March 2019. Once complete, the APM will connect rental car and parking facilities to the Central Terminal Area at LAX with hopes of significantly reducing congestion on roads outside the airport.
Related: Everything you need to know about LAX’s secret VIP terminal PS
The new system
The new APM at LAX will span 2.25 miles, with trains running on a concrete guideway between six stations. Three of the stations will be inside the Central Terminal Area, and three will be outside the terminals.
The driverless trains will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Airport officials anticipate trains will be available every two minutes during the peak hours of 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Trains will be able to reach a top speed of 47 miles per hour and will be free for passengers to ride.
Each train will have four cars capable of carrying a maximum of 50 passengers and their luggage, or a total of 200 passengers per train. LAX expects the new $2 billion system will serve 30 million passengers per year.
The below map shows the layout of the new system, with the Central Terminal Area portion of the APM line on the left. The westernmost stop is the CTA West station, followed by CTA Central and CTA East. Each station in the CTA will serve different terminals.
Pedestrian walkways will connect passengers from the terminals to the stations, as well as to parking garages.
Once the line continues east out of the terminal, the train will reach what LAX calls the Intermodal Transportation Facility-West. This is where passengers who parked in the economy lot can get off and take one of two pedestrian bridges to reach their car.
Continuing east on the line, the next stop is the Intermodal Transportation Facility-East, where passengers will be able to connect to regional public transportation, including bus service and, eventually, the Los Angeles Metro.
The next and final stop on the line is the new consolidated rental car facilities.
LAX anticipates the more than 2-mile ride will take about 10 minutes from one end of the line (CTA West) to the other (rental car facilities).
Related: Layover lowdown: Los Angeles International Airport
The first week of August noted two significant milestones for the people mover, one of which being that the first people mover car was unveiled at the airport.
So far, four of the automated train cars have arrived at the maintenance and storage facility site at LAX. They arrived via a cross-country journey from the Alstom factory in Pittsburgh, where the vehicles are fabricated and assembled.
“The Automated People Mover will be so much more than another way to get to LAX — it’s the piece of the puzzle that will curb the congestion that has been plaguing our airport for decades,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti, who emceed the car debut.
“As we welcome the first car that will whisk travelers to renovated terminals, parking structures, Metro rail, and a new rental car facility, it’s clear that a completely reimagined LAX is on the horizon.”
In another milestone moment at LAX, the last structural steel beam was lowered into place on the West Central Terminal Area station, the largest of the six stations that are part of the project.
The placement of the project’s final pedestrian bridge, connecting the West CTA station to Tom Bradley International Terminal, is scheduled for placement this fall. Work on the station facades, internal systems and vertical cores is scheduled to continue this year.
At the outset of this project, LA leaders called this a “historic investment in Los Angeles’ emerging business and workforce.”
If the 10-minute (or less, depending on your terminal) estimate for a ride on the APM to the new rental car facility is accurate, that in and of itself would be a major improvement for the area, which regularly suffers from significant airport congestion. I can recall sitting on a shuttle bus for close to an hour while riding from baggage claim to a rental car facility during a previous visit.
LAX officials also took to social media this weekend to tout the new system’s environmentally friendly attributes, including 44 cars that will be fully electric.
Additionally, the project page mentions that this system will eliminate an estimated 117,000 vehicle miles per year — a major reduction in shuttle buses required to transport passengers.
If the APM is fully operational by 2023 as expected, it would also accomplish another feat: being ready for the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Olympics and Paralympics in Los Angeles.
Additional reporting by Melissa Klurman.