L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Santa Monica Mayor Pam O'Connor attended the kick off of the new Flyaway service on Monday. (Matthew Hall)

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor attended the kick off of the new Flyaway service on Monday. (Matthew Hall)

DOWNTOWN — Santa Monicans going to and from Los Angeles International Airport now have access to a direct shuttle with the commencement of a Flyaway shuttle in the city.

Regional dignitaries officially opened the new service with a media announcement on July 14 in advance of the first bus trips on July 15. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Santa Monica mayor Pam O’Conner, Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin and Los Angeles World Airport Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey praised the new service for its ability to connect residents and reduce traffic.

“Traffic on the Westside is one of the regions greatest problems, we all face that,” said Garcetti to a bank of cameras and media representatives.

Garcetti praised local municipalities for cooperating on a solution.

“By the beginning of 2016 I think we are all so excited to complete phase two of the Expo Line,” he said. “Giving you an opportunity to take rail from Fourth Street right here in Santa Monica from the sand to the symphony from the beaches to the bars, leaving traffic in the dust.”

He said the Flyaway is part of a network of solutions to local gridlock

“We’re building a stronger region by investing in critical infrastructure like LAX and our transit system and the new Flyaway service from Santa Monica to LAX is part of that effort, making it easier for tourists to get around and locals to get to LAX and reducing traffic for all of us on the 405, on Lincoln Boulevard, and all our congested corridors that are some of the worst not just in the city, but in the country,” he said.

Mayor O’Connor said the service is valuable to locals and tourists alike.

“People living here will find it’s a useful way not only to get themselves to the airport but for their visitors, to get their visitors here to Santa Monica and back without having to drive to the airport to pick them up.”

She said the service fit’s with Santa Monica’s reputation as a car-optional destination for travelers.

“80 percent of our visitors experience Santa Monica car free, they come here without a car, they can take the flyaway, which will make it easy for tourists to come here and when they get here they can enjoy our city by walking by biking, by taking transit, by taking the big blue bus to explore and to connect to the greater parts of the Los Angeles area,” she said.

Los Angeles councilman Bonin said the service grew out of a desire by local residents to handle airport traffic.

“This is actually happening today because of ideas from neighbors of the airport,” he said. “The flyaway service and the idea for it was born of lawsuits ten years ago and legal settlements from people who live in the shadow of the airport who said we need to create choice for passengers for commuters, for travelers so they can have various different ways to get to the airport.”

Lindsey said the Santa Monica service was overdue given the statistics of airport travelers.

“As we looked around the Los Angeles passenger base and the employee base and looked at those who live closest to the airport, the very largest market was Santa Monica,” she said. “So it’s high time we’re here and we couldn’t be here without the cooperation of you’re great city.”

Lindsey said about 100,000 per year were expected to use the service. Busses operate hourly from 5:45 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. daily, including holidays and weekends, picking up passengers 15 minutes before each hour for a cost of $8 one-way.

The Santa Monica station, located at 1875 Main Street in front of the Civic Auditorium, joins Flyaway services already operating at Union Station, Van Nuys, Westwood and Metro Expo/La Brea. A sixth location is scheduled to start service in Hollywood in September.

 

matt@smdp.com

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