The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners unanimously approved policies Monday, March 20th, that encourage the consolidation of hotel courtesy bus trips, designed to ease traffic congestion and improve air quality in the passenger terminal area of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The board approved an overall program of policy initiatives and incentives/disincentives for hotel trip reductions that include the waiver of trip fees charged to hotel shuttles at LAX that consolidate their operations to achieve a 35 percent reduction in the number of trips made to LAX over 2004 levels, as well as conversions to alternative-fuel vehicles.

A “trip” is counted each time a courtesy shuttle enters the LAX Central Terminal Area to pick up or drop off passengers.

The program also includes increases in trip fees from 32 cents to $1.60 per circuit for hotels that operate the smaller individual shuttles, requires hotels to convert new or replacement shuttles to alternative fuel, sets trip reduction targets, and establishes financial penalties for excess trips.

The board also approved an amendment requesting a feasibility study to determine if a bus consolidation program could be made mandatory for all hotels.

On a related matter, the board also approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Destination Shuttle Services, LLC, to operate a consolidated shuttle service for hotels.

This service is expected to incorporate the shuttles of nine Gateway LAX hotels along the Century Boulevard corridor that accounted for 49.3 percent of all hotel shuttle circuits in 2004.

In order to maintain a quality level of service to hotel patrons, one bus route will be provided for every three hotels, so a bus could stop at no more than three hotels, depending on demand and location.

Passengers would not need to change vehicles or transfer luggage. New, larger alternative-fuel buses will be purchased for this program.

In addition, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) will provide at no cost to the hotels for up to 12 months a temporary bus staging and dispatching area located on airport property near the intersection of Jenny Avenue and Westchester Parkway in Westchester to facilitate consolidation of their bus operations.

Consolidation is defined as three or more similar agencies that combine their courtesy shuttle services to the Central Terminal Area.

This temporary 60,000-square-foot location will be used while Los Angeles World Airports staff examines other locations which may be more suitable if the level of hotel participation and the overall effectiveness of the program increase.

All current drivers for these nine hotels will receive job offers from Destination Shuttle Services, at higher salaries and benefits, and new promotional opportunities will be available to dispatchers and assistant managers.

The hotel shuttle bus consolidation program was developed through a partnership with L.A.Inc./The Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Los Angles World Airports will not be involved in any payments for the consolidated buses or operations.

Average daily traffic in the Central Terminal Area for all types of vehicles currently ranges from 60,000 to 79,000 vehicles, depending on the month, and exceeded 100,000 vehicles a day in the summer months prior to Sept. 11th, 2001, when passenger traffic was higher.

Currently, 48 hotels operate shuttle bus service to the Central Terminal Area, accounting for about 600,000 circuits per year.

About three percent of the traffic on the Upper/Departure Level roadway, and 4.8 percent on the Lower/Arrival Level are attributable to hotel shuttles.

According to a Los Angeles World Airports report, consolidation of the shuttle bus operations at these nine hotels alone will reduce the amount of emissions 66 percent annually, from 32 tons to 11 tons.

These reductions will be phased in as the current fleet size is first reduced, then replaced with vehicles that run on compressed natural gas.

Board action is part of an on-going Los Angeles World Airports program to reduce the number of buses and other vehicles in the Central Terminal Area, in order to improve traffic congestion and reduce emissions.

Door-to-door shuttle van circuits and off-airport rental car company bus trips have thus far been addressed. Efforts to reduce the number of on-airport rental car bus trips are ongoing.

In 2004 the board approved the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) as part of the mitigation program for Alternative D of the LAX Master Plan. The plan is to convert all buses to be able to use alternative fuels.