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Will The New LAX Automated People Mover Be The New Rolling Homeless Shelter And Drug Den?


LA TRANSPO - LAX, notorious for the horrible traffic getting in and out of the airport, and particularly going into the horseshoe to drop-off or pick-up air travelers, is building an Automated People Mover to take traffic out of the airport. Brilliant idea. 

From the LAWA/LAX website: 

The APM will be FREE for all users and operate at all times. With an anticipated use of approximately 30 million passengers per year, it is estimated that the APM will result in 117,000 fewer vehicle miles traveled per day.

This is fantastic planning. As one who lives about one mile away from LAX, I know too well the repercussions of living close to one of the most used airports in the world. The LAX neighborhoods get 24/7 not only the noise and pollution from the jets and surface vehicles servicing the airport, our neighborhoods are inundated with street traffic going to, and leaving LAX, and vehicle pollution.

On holidays our streets are gridlocked with LAX traffic. When not gridlocked, the local streets have drivers dangerously racing to LAX. The local streets suffer inordinate wear and tear, and damage.

Moving that traffic out of the LAX neighborhoods and onto the APM is fantastic planning. The APM will be accessed either through a centralized parking structure, which still does not remove enough vehicles from the neighborhoods; and ideally, with a station connection to Metro Light Rail Lines: the K-Pink and C-Green Lines. Buses will also have their own center for a quick connection to the APM.

Urban planning which makes sense.

The APM will be free. However, LAWA/LAX, and its owner and operator, the City of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County which is financially and socially dependent upon LAX to function, began construction before the current chaos on Metro trains.

Those of us who regularly ride Metro light rail lines and subways know that through a lack of oversight from Los Angeles County Metro that homelessness and dangerous drug use on Metro are scaring away riders.

Long time, hardened riders are fleeing out of safety concerns.

To be successful in attracting new riders, those new to transit need to have some comfort in trying to decipher Metro’s confusing signage. New transit riders in their nervousness of maybe giving up driving for the first time in their life and riding mass transit, will need a sense of safety and security.

For the LAX APM to be successful, the project must convince drivers, and whomever they are taking to or picking up at LAX, to trust the system. According to ABC7 the APM will cost $2Billion. A lot of money is riding on the success of this system.

The potential new APM riders will need to feel not only secure that they will arrive in time for their flight. Those arriving need to feel secure they can connect through the APM to then use Metro transit to get to their destination in Los Angeles.

In car addicted L.A., and surrounding SoCal areas, this will be a big sell. It will take a lot of convincing, and good public imaging, to not only try the APM once, but to return to it after first use.

With the current situation on Metro trains, the prognosis for a fully successful APM is not good.

Metro’s light rail and subway trains seem to be a place of choice for drug use and the homeless. However, there are limitations to access the rolling homeless shelters and drug dens.

Metro light rail and subway lines stop service for a few hours at night, and resume service early morning. This means those who advocate for using Metro as a rolling homeless shelter have the homeless leaving the last trains of the night, placing them on the streets in the middle of the night.

Those who don’t want drug users on Metro harassed need to see that drug users also have to leave the last train of the night, and in their drugged state wander the streets in the middle of the night. And, they need to see that drug users, and their hazardous second hand drug smoke, are harassing unassuming, innocent Metro riders.

The APM, running 24/7, could become a very desired rolling homeless shelter and drug den, with access from Metro Light Rail lines. They would never have to leave the train in the middle of the night

Imagine locals trying to get to LAX using mass transit for the first time and getting on a Metro train and then an APM train filled with drug users and their hazardous second hand smoke.

The locals will probably never use the $2Billion APM again, nor any kind of mass transit, striking a major blow to the idea of reducing carbon footprints to reduce global warming by riding mass transit. (Very, very, very few people are going to ride a bicycle to LAX.)

Imagine travelers from throughout the U.S. and world, looking excitedly ahead for time in mythical L.A. and Hollywood, and greeted with drug smoke filled APM and Metro train cars. That is not a good first impression.

In addition to the hoped for benefits of reduced LAX traffic and pollution from people using the APM, L.A. is hugely dependent upon the tourism industry to survive.

If today’s situation of drug use on Metro continues, when the APM opens, word will soon spread globally about the horrors of riding the LAX APM, and riding Metro, filled with drug users and their hazardous second hand smoke-possibly including fentanyl.

What will the state of Metro ridership be in 2028 when Los Angeles hosts the Olympics.

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native, a composer whose works have been performed nationally, and some can be found here.  He is the past President of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra and Marina del Rey Symphony. His dedication to transit issues is to help improve the transit riding experience for all, and to convince drivers to ride buses and trains to fight air pollution and global warming. He is an instructor at Emeritus/Santa Monica College and a regular contributor to CityWatchLA.)

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