Uber, Lyft too expensive at LAX? Taxi, bus and other options


Bomani Mintz walked out of baggage claim at LAX on Thanksgiving weekend and was greeted with sticker shock. His five-mile Uber ride home to Marina del Rey was supposed to cost $50.

Then he noticed the unusually long lines for taxis.

“The cab market is making a comeback as Uber/Lyft fares exceed $10 per mile from LAX.” he tweeted.

Mintz said he’s flown to LAX once a month for the past three months, but has never considered taking a cab to get home. The ride cost him $30.

He wasn’t the only angry traveler. Lane Wood landed at LAX on Nov. 30 and said that an UberX ride to downtown Los Angeles was valued at over $100.

“That’s not a little. It’s not like, “Oh sure, let me just push a button and $100 go out of my account.” It’s wild,” he said.

Uber and Lyft said they consider several factors when estimating a fare. For example, Uber takes into account the time of day, distance and route – the prices are adjusted to shared journeys and demand. Lyft considers route, type, availability, and demand.

Lyft spokeswoman Abby Guadarrama said in a statement that the company was responding to changing conditions.

“As vaccines rolled out and people started moving again, we found that the demand for ridesharing exceeded the number of drivers available,” she said. “In markets where this is possible, we are providing drivers with demand forecasts to get drivers to their destinations as efficiently as possible – as much as we can given the unpredictability of COVID.”

So if you’re used to using a ridesharing app to leave LAX but don’t like the price or timing of a one-way ride, here are some alternatives.

Queuing for a taxi

The cab line is always there, and while there’s a wait, there are plenty of cab drivers making the rounds at LAX. You can catch a taxi at LAX-it next to Terminal 1, in Parking Lot 3 and at the other end of Terminal 7.

Note that Los Angeles taxi fares are set by the Board of Taxicab Commissioners, so time of day, demand and availability are not factors as with ride-sharing apps.

Colin Sweeney, director of public information at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, said all passengers ride for the price of one: It’s $2.85 for the first ninth of a mile; 30 cents for each additional ninth of a mile (equivalent to $2.70 per mile); plus 30 cents for every 37 seconds of waiting or delay ($29.19 per hour).

“Since 2018, taxi companies have had the opportunity to adjust these tariffs lower. However, you must not exceed these rates,” he said.

LAX to downtown (and vice versa) is the only flat rate of $46.50 set by the Board of Commissioners. Taxi companies sometimes have flat rates for other airport rides. For example, Bell Cab charges $38 for trips between the city of West Hollywood and LAX.

There are eight authorized taxi companies serving LAX, including:

  • Bell Cab: You can call (888) 481-2345 or request a ride through the Taxi.US app.

Public transport, parking and more

What are your other options?

Public transport: yes you can take the bus LAX is served by multiple providers including Metro, Culver CityBus, Big Blue Bus, Torrance Transit and Beach Cities Transit.

LAX offers a free shuttle to the LAX City Bus Center. The shuttle is located under the LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections sign on the lower/arrivals level. Board the Lot South/LAX City Bus Center shuttle. The shuttle does not run from 2am to 4am

Hotel shuttles: Major airport hotels offer free transportation from the LAX terminals, so call your hotel and ask about the shuttles.

Fly away: This is a bus service that will take you between LAX and Union Station or Van Nuys. A single fare is $9.75. Visit the FlyAway website for ticket and timetable information.

Reserved parking space at LAX: If you arrive by car, you can book and pay for a parking space in advance of your trip. From your reserved parking space, take the free shuttle to your terminal.

Blame your family or friend for a ride: Mintz said he’ll start thinking ahead when he figures out how to get home from the airport. “If I’m not being picked up by a friend, I feel like I’m at the mercy of a cab, Uber or Lyft,” he said.

Visit the LAX website for a full list of transportation options.

Still want to use ridesharing?

Lyft: Guadarrama said Lyft users might consider Lyft Rentals to get themselves away from the airport. Just open the app and look for the key icon to select your location, reservation details and vehicle. In December, she said, there’s a $30 rebate for first-time renters. When you use Lyft to rent from Sixt, a car rental company, first-time visitors get a 10% discount.

Lyft also offers a Wait & Save option – you wait longer and pay a lower fare. This program is not available in all markets.

And there’s always Lyft Shared, a shared car with other drivers at a discounted rate. And according to the Lyft website, you can get a bigger discount if you book ahead.

About: Uber spokesman Zahid Arab said you should plan your ride up to 30 days in advance with Uber Reserve so you know your ride is confirmed. A driver will wait for you for up to an hour at no extra charge. And if you provide your flight information, the reservation can be adjusted based on delays.

Arab also suggested checking the Uber app 20 minutes before you want to request a ride to estimate arrival times and make sure you get where you want to go on time.

Finally, if you’re not in a hurry, he said, wait for the prices to drop. Uber, Lyft too expensive at LAX? Taxi, bus and other options

Russell Falcon

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