Metro CEO hints at possible express train to LAX

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As construction continues on the Crenshaw/LAX Line and a long-sought rail connection to LAX gets closer to reality, Metro is already considering ways to speed up the trip from the airport to Downtown Los Angeles.

During a panel discussion at Urban Land Institute’s Future Build conference, Metro CEO Phil Washington revealed the transit agency might explore adding an express train that would shuttle passengers between LAX and Union Station.

Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero tells Curbed that studies of the project could be funded through Measure M, which sets aside $20 million in seed money for research into “visionary projects.”

Measure M seed money will allow @metrolosangeles to explore express train from LAX to Union Station says CEO Phil Washington #FutureBuild

— ULI Los Angeles (@ulilosangeles) January 31, 2017

It’s not clear yet what route the express train might take to get to the airport—or how it would be funded.Since this project was not among those included in the Measure M expenditure plan, it would not be eligible to receive construction funding from the voter-approved sales tax initiative until most of those projects have been completed (the plan includes projects projected to open as far out as 2067, so that could take a while).

As a result, Sotero says the agency could look into alternative funding possibilities, such as grants or a public-private partnership. In his previous job heading Denver’s transit authority, Washington oversaw development of the nation’s first commuter rail line built through a public-private partnership, and Metro is currently looking into partnering with private companies to speed up several major projects.

If the express train concept moves forward, it would give travelers an alternative to the airport-operated Flyaway bus that picks up LAX-bound passengers at Union Station, as well as Van Nuys, Hollywood, Westwood, and Long Beach.

Right now, travelers looking to take Metro to the airport are stuck taking a combination of the Green Line and a shuttle bus that leaves from the Aviation Boulevard stop. By 2023, both the Crenshaw/LAX Lines and a new people-mover at the airport should be complete, giving riders a more user-friendly way to get to and from their terminals.

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