Friday, April 3

FlyAway to fly away from Westwood after the LAX shuttle suffers low ridership

The FlyAway shuttle that transported passengers between Westwood and Los Angeles International Airport will cease operation Sunday due to years of low ridership. (Daily Bruin file photo)

A bus line between Westwood and Los Angeles International Airport will shut down Sunday due to low ridership over the past several years.

The FlyAway shuttle transported passengers from the intersection of Gayley Avenue and Strathmore Drive to and from various terminals at LAX for $10 each way. An independent study conducted to determine reasons for low ridership revealed many people preferred ride-share options like Uber or Lyft to walking to the FlyAway shuttle stop.

Heath Montgomery, public relations director at Los Angeles World Airports, said the public relations division of LAWA reached out to students over the last two years at the annual UCLA Travel Fair and sought feedback from the community to better tailor the FlyAway experience to members of Westwood.

“We’ve held community forums with some Westwood residents and students to see if there were things we could do to entice people to take that ride,” Montgomery said. “At the end of the day, we basically heard no, there was nothing we could do really to convince people because they were choosing those other options at this particular location.”

The study also found increased time constraints associated with taking the FlyAway shuttle from Westwood led many residents to choose ride-share options over the shuttle. Specifically, people would need to account for 20 to 40 extra minutes due to wait times and additional stops at LAX terminals.

The service made several attempts in the last nine years to improve service, lower cost and increase profit at the Westwood location, but this did not increase its appeal to customers.

In January, the FlyAway service reduced its operating hours due to low ridership. In March, the service moved its pickup location closer to campus in an attempt to increase ridership.

Montgomery said people traveling to and from Westwood chose other methods of transportation over the FlyAway, such as receiving rides from friends and family and using Metro buses and trains.

“We really saw three people on each of one of those trips choosing to take the FlyAway from Westwood,” Montgomery said. “That’s not enough to sustain an operation like that, which has a cost associated with it.”

Norman Chen, a rising second-year mathematics student, said he used the FlyAway shuttle service only once during the past year due to scheduling constraints and its lack of consistency.

“Frankly, it’s not on time very often and it’s not that convenient,” Chen said. “It was nice when I needed it, but when it doesn’t line up with my schedule, it’s not worth waiting an hour for.”

Montgomery said the FlyAway service as a whole greatly benefits LAX operations as a cost-effective, environmentally friendly transportation system for a large set of passengers traveling through the airport.

“When you take 1.9 million people in the last fiscal year out of those cars and get them into multiridership vehicles, that’s going to have an operational impact,” Montgomery said.

Staff Writer

Oruganti is a News staff writer. He was previously a reporter for the city and crime beat. He is also a second-year cognitive science student.

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