LAX provided a glimpse of how travelers will get to terminals via the airport’s long-awaited Automated People Mover on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 2, with officials unveiling the first of 44 train cars that will eventually allow folks to forego the congestion that is currently the hallmark of flying out of Los Angeles.
LA, federal and airport officials at the new Maintenance and Storage Facility, which will act as the operational hub for the Automated People Mover.
“The Automated People Mover will be so much more than another way to get to LAX,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “It’s the piece of the puzzle that will curb the congestion that has been plaguing our airport for decade.”
The system, which is set to open in 2023, is meant to reduce congestion around Los Angeles International Airport while also connecting folks to the country’s fifth-busiest travel hub via regional public transportation, including LA Metro.
The car unveiling was the latest milestone for the Automated People Mover project, which began in 2019.
Earlier this year, workers finished pouring 69,700 cubic yards of concrete for the system’s 2.25-mile elevated guideway structure. Five of six bridges over World Way have also been completed, with the last one set for completion later this year.
The Automated People Mover is part of the $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Program, which also includes a consolidated Rent-A-Car facility, intermodal transportation facilities and roadway improvements, according to Los Angeles World Airports. It is also the crown jewel of the airport’s overall $15 billion capital improvement program — as officials work to transform the airport ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“As we welcome the first car that will whisk travelers to renovated terminals, parking structures, Metro rail, and a new rental car facility,” Garcia said, “it’s clear that a completely reimagined LAX is on the horizon.”
The car that debuted on Tuesday arrived at the Maintenance and Storage Facility from its Pittsburgh manufacturing plant in June, LAWA said in a press release. Two others have since joined it — and a fourth will arrive this week.
Once operational, the driverless train cars — boasting large windows, multiple hand rails and 12 seats each — will arrive at each of the six stations every two minutes during peak travel times, LAWA said. A roundtrip will take 10 minutes.
Half of the stations will be inside the Central Terminal Area and half will be outside. The latter stations will connect to the new LAX Economy Parking, light-rail transportation and the Rent-A-Car facility, LAWA said.
The train cars will also be environmentally friendly, officials said.
“Innovation, sustainability and state-of-the-art technology are integral to our ongoing modernization,” said LAWA CEO Justin Erbacci said in a Tuesday statement. “These Automated People Mover train cars will set a high standard for environmentally sustainable transportation, having shells made of recyclable materials and achieving zero emissions. We look forward to seeing the cars in action when we begin testing them in 2023.”
LAX’s modernization efforts have progressed at a frenzied pace.
In May 2021, the $1.7 billion, 15-gate West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal debuted. In October that year, the $294 million LAX Economy Parking facility — like the Automated People Mover, it’s part of the LAMP initiative — opened to the public.
A month later, United and Los Angeles World Airports cut the ribbon on the airline’s new $352 million technical operations center.
And in March, LAX, Los Angeles and Delta Air Lines officials cut the ribbon on the first phase of a multi-billion-dollar makeover of Terminals 2 and 3.
Construction on the Automated People Mover has also moved swiftly — and is on pace to be ready within about four years of the project getting underway.
“I am excited and proud to see the first train cars delivered for LAX’s Automated People Mover,” U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Construction has been moving at a fast pace and when complete will enable airline passengers to reach their terminals from anywhere near a Metro light rail line at a fraction of the current cost and without contributing to local traffic and vehicle emissions.”
City News Service contributed to this report.