Uber and Lyft too expensive at LAX? You have options

·5 min read
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Arriving home after traveling to Spain Teagan Jarvis, 21, waits for his transportation at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA. Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days of the year at LAX. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Some people have reported high fares and long waits for rideshares from LAX. There are other options. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

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

Then he noticed the unusually long lines for taxis.

"The taxi market is making a comeback the way Uber/Lyft prices are $10+ a mile coming from LAX," he tweeted.

Mintz said he has flown into LAX once a month in the past three months but never before considered using a cab to get home, until now. The ride cost him $30.

He wasn't the only miffed traveler. Lane Wood landed at LAX on Nov. 30 and said an UberX ride to downtown Los Angeles was estimated to be over $100.

"That is not a small amount. It's not like a, 'Oh, sure, let me just push a button, and out goes $100 from my account.' It's wild," he said.

Uber and Lyft said they consider several factors when estimating a fare. For example, Uber considers time of day, distance and route — prices are adjusted for shared rides and demand. Lyft factors in route, type, availability and demand.

Lyft spokesperson Abby Guadarrama said in a statement that the company is responding to changing conditions.

"As vaccines rolled out and people started moving again, we began to see the demand for rides outpace the number of available drivers," she said. "In markets where it is possible, we're providing demand predictions to drivers to help get riders to their destinations as efficiently as possible — as much as we can given COVID's unpredictability."

So if you're used to using a rideshare app to leave LAX but don't like the price or timing for a solo ride, here are some alternatives.

Line up for a cab

The cab line is always there, and even though there is a wait time, there are plenty of cab drivers making the rounds at LAX. You can catch a cab at LAX-it next to Terminal 1, inside Parking Structure 3, and at the far end of Terminal 7.

Note that taxi rates in Los Angeles are set by the Board of Taxicab Commissioners, so time of day, demand and availability aren't factors as they are for rideshare apps.

Colin Sweeney, director of public information for 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 (which works out to $2.70 per mile); plus 30 cents for each 37 seconds of waiting or delay ($29.19 per hour).

"Since 2018, taxi companies have the ability to adjust these rates lower. However, they cannot exceed these rates," he said.

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

There are eight authorized taxi companies that serve LAX, including:

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

Public transit, parking and more

What are your other options?

Public transit: Yes, you can take the bus. Several providers serve LAX, including Metro, Culver CityBus, Big Blue Bus, Torrance Transit and Beach Cities Transit.

LAX provides a free shuttle to the LAX City Bus Center. The shuttle is under the LAX Shuttle & Airline Connections sign on the Lower/Arrivals Level. You'll want to board the Lot South/LAX City Bus Center shuttle. The shuttle does not run from 2 to 4 a.m.

Hotel shuttles: Major airport hotels provide courtesy transportation from LAX terminals, so call your hotel and ask about their shuttles.

FlyAway: This is a bus service that takes you between LAX and Union Station or Van Nuys. A one-way trip is $9.75. Information about tickets and schedules can be found on the FlyAway website.

Reserved parking at LAX: If you drive, you can book and prepay for a parking spot ahead of your trip. From your reserved parking spot, take the free shuttle to your terminal.

Guilt your family or a friend for a ride: Mintz said he's going to start thinking ahead when figuring out how to get home from the airport. "Unless I have a friend pick me up, I feel like I'm at the mercy of a taxi, Uber or Lyft," he said.

A full list of transportation options can be found on the LAX website.

Still want to use rideshare?

Lyft: Guadarrama said Lyft users might consider Lyft Rentals to drive themselves away from the airport. Just open the app and look for the keys icon to choose your location, reservation dates and vehicle. In December, she said, there's a $30-off promotion for first-time renters. If using Lyft to rent from Sixt, a car rental service, first-timers can get 10% off.

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 riders at a discounted price. And, according to the Lyft website, you can get a bigger discount when booking in advance.

Uber: Uber spokesperson Zahid Arab said to 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 additional 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 gauge arrival times to help ensure you get where you want to go on time.

Lastly, if you're not in a rush, he said, wait it out for prices to go down.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.