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Santa Monica Civic Center Selected as New Hub for Direct Bus Line to LAX

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

February 5, 2014 -- Travelers will soon be able to leave their cars at home, head to Main Street, Santa Monica and hop a direct bus to Los Angeles International Airport.

While Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which coordinates the ground transportation at LAX, said that buses won't start shuttling passengers until July, Santa Monica city officials have identified Main Street at the Santa Monica Civic Center as FlyAway bus service's newest hub.

And with the overwhelming majority of tourists arriving in Santa Monica without a car, the FlyAway service is invaluable, said City Traffic Engineer Sam Morrissey.

“Something like 97 percent of international hotel guests arrive without a car,” said Morrissey. “This will give a better direct connection.”

Currently, for $8 to $10, travelers can take FlyAway buses directly to LAX from Union Station, Westwood, the Expo Light Rail stop at LaBrea Boulevard and from Van Nuys.

Santa Monica's Civic Center is one of three new locations LAWA hopes to add to FlyAway's list, including Hollywood, Torrance and the West Valley, said LAWA Senior Transportation Engineer Patrick Tomcheck.

And, LAWA is anticipating it will be a resounding success.

“Based on other FlyAway experiences, we're assuming (there will be) around 125,000 passengers in the first year of operation,” said Tomcheck.

With FlyAway planning to operate as many as 21 round trips a day from the Civic Center, travelers arriving at all hours of the day will be able to get to and from LAX for $8.

While the Civic Center is not directly in the thick of Santa Monica's hotel and transit activity, City officials chose the location in order to minimize the impact of the buses, which will arrive about every hour.

“The civic center parking lot provides a safe pick-up/drop off area for those accessing the Flyaway, again without significantly affecting current traffic flow,” officials said.

And, they said, the location has “excellent proximity to several hotels and the downtown area which are destination points within Santa Monica.”

With the coming of the bus service, staff will monitor the area to watch the potential impacts on parking, officials said.

Currently, parking in the Civic Center lot is not allowed for more than 72 hours, which, Morrissey said, the City has no plans to change.

“The service is best for people who want to leave their car at home,” he said. Or, for tourists who opt to get around without a car while visiting.

A FlyAway stop in Santa Monica is a long-time coming. The current trip to LAX from Santa Monica can sometimes take two hours – with passengers taking a Big Blue Bus down busy Lincoln Boulevard, then transferring to a small shuttle in order to approach the terminal.

FlyAway buses drop passengers directly off at LAX's terminals. “I think it's just really good to have another option,” said Morrissey.

A recent survey by LAWA showed that almost 2.4 percent of travelers passing through LAX daily started their trip in the bayside city, compared to 2 percent coming from Hollywood and 1.76 percent from West L.A.

“I'm glad that they recognize the importance of Santa Monica from a ridership perspective,” said Morrissey.

While the July start date for FlyAway is tentative, Santa Monica is still likely to be the first of the three new locations to start operating.

Hollywood won't likely open as a FlyAway hub until later in the year, said Tomcheck. In the west Valley, he said, a new bus bay needs to be built, which likely won't be completed until early 2015.

The Torrance hub will open after the South Bay city completes its new ground transit center sometime in 2015.

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