By Lauren Jow, September 4, 2014
Brian Flynn of Hollywood hops on to the FlyAway bus to LAX at the new stop in Hollywood on Wednesday.
First days are difficult, I had to remind myself while waiting an hour
and 15 minutes for a FlyAway shuttle to take me from the Los Angeles
International Airport to a new stop in Hollywood.
Spoiler alert: The shuttle never came. But the next one did, 15 minutes late.
of us is new to the game. For years, FlyAway has been providing nonstop
rides to and from the airport from Van Nuys, Union Station, Westwood
and now Santa Monica and Hollywood. During my four years at UCLA, I was a
loyal customer every holiday break, along with thousands of other
But drivers struggled through rush-hour traffic
Wednesday along a new route from Hollywood to LAX. Shuttles take the 101
and 110 freeways to pick up and drop off passengers, scheduled every
hour on the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue.
Hollywood stop opened a day after FlyAway ended service to Expo/La
Brea, which had as few as one or two riders per day, according to Mary
Grady, director of media and public relations for Los Angeles World
Airports, which runs LAX and the FlyAway.
The changes to the shuttle service reflect a bumpy road in recent years that gradually is starting to straighten out.
has been operating in the red for the past five years, though the
deficit gets smaller every year, according to a December 2013 report by
Los Angeles World Airports.
In 2013, fares increased by $1 for Union Station and Van Nuys – FlyAway’s two most popular stations – to make up for deficits.
almost discontinued service to Westwood in 2011, but held off after
outcry from residents and UCLA students. Even though lines stretch
around the block during UCLA breaks and major holidays, Westwood has low
ridership during the year, especially on weekdays.
FlyAway doubled Westwood fares from $5 to $10 and reduced service from
every half hour to every hour. In 2012-2013, Westwood was the only route
that made a profit.
Los Angeles World Airports is required to
operate nine FlyAway routes by the end of 2015, according to a 2006
settlement reached with Los Angeles County, three cities and a community
group based in Westchester.
FlyAway opened a Santa Monica route
in July and ended service to Irvine in August 2012 because of low
ridership. A line to Orange will open in early 2015, and the Torrance
Transit Center will be completed mid- to late-2015, according to
Marshall Lowe, a spokesman for Los Angeles World Airports.
FlyAway service is part of a massive renovation, as LAX tries to
improve the ways travelers get to and from the airport. Although the
shuttle service sometimes suffers from long wait lines, and isn’t as
accessible or flexible as ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Lyft,
supporters say it fills a need.
FlyAway is good for
international travelers who aren’t familiar with ride-sharing apps and
folks who want a cheaper option, said Leron Gubler, president and CEO of
the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
“Transportation planners like to have a lot of arrows in their quiver to provide people with different options,” he said.
his first time in Los Angeles, Michael Kuo had a relatively easy trip
from LAX to the Airbnb apartment he’s staying at near Hollywood
Boulevard and Vine Street, just a block from the new FlyAway stop.
50 minutes of waiting at the airport, Kuo hopped on the FlyAway for the
last leg of his trip around the United States before he returns to
Civic leaders hope the new FlyAway stop
appeals to tourists like Kuo, who make Hollywood their main destination.
Last year, 42 million visitors came to Los Angeles. The city expects
those numbers to grow as the economy improves and attractions rebuild.
The Walk of Fame is undergoing restoration, for example, and 1.5 million
square feet of office space will be built in the next year.
“We are working to keep the stars shining,” L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell said on Wednesday.
FlyAway route, paired with the Metro Red Line stop at Hollywood
Boulevard and Vine Street, will also appeal to business travelers and
local residents, Gubler said.
“There are actually people that take mass transit,” he said.
Flynn didn’t have a plan on how to get to the airport when he woke up
Wednesday morning. So it’s a good thing he saw a Facebook post about the
new FlyAway stop, just a six-block walk from his apartment.
“I wouldn’t mind waking up a couple hours earlier to spend a little less,” he said.
One $8 nap later, he was at the airport.