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Bus service between Westwood and LAX reduces hours due to low ridership

By Rafael Franco

Jan. 8, 2019 11:26 p.m.

This post was updated March 17 at 11:48 a.m.

A bus service to Los Angeles Interational Airport is reducing its operating hours in Westwood due to low ridership in the area.

The airport is reducing its FlyAway bus services, which offers hourly trips to and from Westwood and LAX. The bus will now run its Westwood routes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It previously ran from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Frederick Badlissi, a public information officer at LAX, said LAX decided to cut early morning and late night routes to and from Westwood due to infrequent ridership at those hours.

“The majority of riders use the FlyAway service between the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Badlissi said. “On average, fewer than one rider per trip utilized the FlyAway from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., which is why those trips were eliminated.”

Badlissi added that ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft have affected FlyAway bus ridership, leading fewer passengers to opt for the shuttle.

Saba Waheed, research director at the UCLA Labor Center, said she thinks the FlyAway bus is becoming less popular in Westwood because companies like Uber and Lyft subsidize their prices in order to make their services more appealing and affordable. She added that this is different than what LAX does with its prices for the FlyAway bus, which are set at $10 for a one-way fare.

“People will make choices, and a lot of times these choices center around cost. The thing is that even at this point, a lot of these Uber and Lyft rides are being subsidized by those companies,” Waheed said. “My concern is, how long can that last for?”

Jayesh Menon, a third-year microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics student, said he prefers to travel to and from LAX in an Uber because it is more convenient to call an Uber than walk to the FlyAway bus, which is located at each terminal in front of the FlyAway bus stop.

“My friends and I have trouble carrying our luggage that far,” Menon said. “With Ubers, we still have to carry it a bit because of the traffic, but it’s not as far as for the shuttle.”

Shangshang Wang, a third-year financial actuarial mathematics student, said he also prefers to take Ubers between LAX and Westwood, but is open to taking the FlyAway bus when he travels with a group of friends.

“I think it’s fun because a lot of friends can ride on there and can take it together,” Wang said. “If I have a couple of friends with me, I prefer the bus, but if I am by myself, I prefer the Uber.”

Badlissi said LAX is working to promote the FlyAway bus to Westwood residents and UCLA students in order to increase ridership.

“We’ve learned that when people know about it, they tend to try it, and end up preferring it to other options,” Badlissi said. “Based on that, we are working with groups at UCLA and throughout Westwood to increase awareness of the Westwood FlyAway.”

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Rafael Franco
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