Video: Watch this dance troupe celebrate the new L.A. Metro Crenshaw/LAX rail line

I’ve been off today covering a groundbreaking for the new Los Angeles Metro LAX/Crenshaw Line. For my non-local readers, this a new estimated $2.058 billion, 8.5- mile light-rail line that does not actually reach Los Angeles International Airport as currently designed.

Its nearest stop to LAX is about two miles east of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. But that’s a story for another time, and something politicians and transportation planners want to fix. For now, however, let’s celebrate the fact that L.A. will, by 2018, have a new light rail line.

And to get in the celebratory mood, you should all watch this video I took today at the ceremony. Its a local dance troupe extolling the virtues of light rail. Trust me. You’ll enjoy it.

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LAX Chief Gina Marie Lindsey was right. Airlines don’t want expensive ground transportation

Last week, I quoted LAX director Gina Marie Lindsey as saying airlines have little interest in two ground transportation projects important to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti — an intermodal transportation center and an automated people mover.

But I didn’t want to take Lindsey’s word for it. So for a story published over the weekend, I asked the airlines. Do they want these projects? Instead of responding directly, the carriers directed their trade group — Airlines 4 America — to answer for them.

And guess what? The airline’s DON’T want these projects. Lindsey was blunt — but she was also right. Here’s the quote from Airlines 4 American spokeswoman Katie Connell:

“In order to continue providing our customers with affordable air travel, airlines must evaluate the best use of their financial resources,” she said. “Transit links are capital intensive and divert revenues away from necessary airport projects.”

I still think these projects will get done in some form, but let’s not pretend everyone is on board.

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LAX spokeswoman: It’s too early to discuss how to fund airport ground transport elements

Staff file photo.

Gina Marie Lindsey’s spokeswoman wrote this afternoon to clarify what the LAX airport director said Monday about airlines not wanting to pay for two projects important to Mayor Eric Garcetti — an Automated People Mover and a Intermodal Transportation Facility. 

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L.A. Council Member Mike Bonin wants to see LAX ground transport center — and soon

PowerPoint Presentation

The process is still ongoing, but Los Angeles Council Member Mike Bonin has made his decision. He wants Los Angeles International Airport to build a new ground transportation center about a mile east of the terminals, one that will connect with two Metro trains — the Green Line and the Crenshaw Line.

The center, pictured above, would connect with an people mover built by the airport that would take passengers to terminals. But passengers could actually check in and drop their bags at the center. They wouldn’t need to lug them on the people mover.

The major problem is that both Metro trains would have to be re-routed from their current paths to reach the center. It’s certainly possible, but Metro officials told me recently that such an exercise is difficult. And Metro has to go through a whole process, mandated by the feds, before it can choose how it will connect its trains to LAX. (A cheaper option would be for the airport to build a people mover and have it go to where there is already a Metro station.)

On Monday, Bonin and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in Washington to discuss the ground transportation proposal. Bonin said it went well.

“It was good to talk to the Secretary of Transportation to make sure that we have partners at the federal level who can help us navigate this and make sure everything goes smoothly,” Bonin said. “They understand that L.A. has historically failed to make the common sense connection to the airport through rail. They seemed eager to support us in our efforts to correct that mistake.”

A ground transportation hub has always been in the airport’s plans, but under former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, no one talked about it, and it was always considered something that would happen far in the future. Now, however, it seems urgent.

Bonin told me city officials hope they can break ground by the time President Obama leaves office in January 2017. Considering the hurdles Metro must clear before then, that seems ambitious. But who knows?

Whatever happens, Bonin said city officials want to make sure the project is done right.

“I think one of the things that the mayor and I have in common is a shared agenda in transportation and a shared desire to make sure that the mistakes that have been made in the past are not made again,” Bonin said. “We don’t want to have a reputation as the city that almost does the right thing in transportation. It’s not good enough to almost get to the airport. We have to connect.”

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