Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quick HOWTO: Airport Transit

In the comments on this post, commenter Matthew mused about the lack of inter-modal airport connections at LA/Ontario International Airport. I'll also mention that the connections that they do have, they advertise very poorly- I've written them an e-mail on the topic. No reply yet. Anyway, he specifically focused on the East Ontario Metrolink station- the station serves the Riverside line, and is literally right next to the airport. However, it's on the opposite side of the airport from the passenger terminals, and there's really no way to get between the two, save a two-mile walk. He lamented the lack of airport shuttle service, which I suspect is due to the limited, directional and commute-centred service that is provided on the Riverside line. There are, however, better ways to get to LA/Ontario Airport, and to many of the airports in Southern California, than Google Transit will tell you. In that spirit, here's a short HOWTO for taking transit from Riverside (downtown) to the region's five commercial airports.

LA/Ontario International Airport
On weekdays:
Ride the Metrolink Riverside line to Pomona-Downtown or the Metrolink IE-OC and San Bernardino lines to Fontana. At either station, board the Omnitrans 61 (any 61- these are the termini of the line) and get off at the airport. Flag down a Long Term Parking shuttle at the Omnitrans stop, and you'll be taken directly to the terminal. One ride on the 61 is included in your Metrolink fare.
You can also ride Route 204 to the Ontario Mills mall, and board the 61 bound for Pomona there.

On weekends:
Take the San Bernardino line directly from downtown, or use the Omnitrans 215 to catch it in San Bernardino. For a cheaper (but slower) option from downtown San Bernardino, ride the Omnitrans 15 to Fontana Metrolink instead. This will also save you the roughly 1 mile walk between the bus terminal and Metrolink station in San Bernardino. Alight at Fontana and ride the 61.

Los Angeles International Airport
All days:
Ride Metrolink to Los Angeles Union Station, alight and board the LAX FlyAway bus service, which will take you directly to the airport via the freeway, non-stop. FlyAway stops at the Patsouras Plaza bus station at the east end of Union Station, and it costs $3 $7 each way, cash only. Fare is always collected on the Union Station end, so don't panic at LAX trying to buy a ticket. (I did.) Just tell the driver what airline you're flying, and they'll get you where you need to go.

Note when trip planning: Check the FlyAway web site and do your trip planning manually. FlyAway is not in Google Transit. You can take a myriad of Metro bus and rail services between downtown and LAX, but FlyAway is universally faster, and almost universally cheaper. It's also a 24-hour service- every 30 minutes during the daytime, and hourly at night.

Update: Commenters have noted that FlyAway is no longer the cheap way to travel, at $7. For a really, really cheap ride to LAX, check out my new post.

Burbank-Bob Hope Airport
All days:
Ride Metrolink to Burbank Airport station. You'll have to change trains at Los Angeles Union Station. On weekends, you will have to use the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner from Los Angeles. Do NOT buy an Amtrak ticket- your Metrolink ticket is good for passage to the airport on Metrolink or Amtrak trains. (On weekdays, you can also use the Surfliner if it's convenient.)

Santa Ana-John Wayne Airport
Weekdays, commute hours only:
Gary Hewitt at the City of Irvine graciously contacted me with information about his city's iShuttle system. iShuttle Route A provides direct service from the Tustin Metrolink to John Wayne Airport. The route is timed to meet each train, and will wait for late trains up to 15 minutes. You can catch it from morning IE-OC line trains 803, 805, 807 and 809, which leave Riverside-downtown at 5:11a, 5:41a, 6:16a, and 7:26a respectively. You can also catch it on evening IE-OC line train 813, leaving Riverside-downtown at 3:27p. The iShuttle is in Google Transit, for your trip planning convenience, and transfers from Metrolink are free. Normal cash fare is $1.00.

All other days & times:
Either ride Metrolink to Anaheim Canyon or the 149 to the Village at Orange. Pick up the #71 on Tustin Ave. and enjoy the hour-long ride. The 71 will get you as far as Main & Red Hill- you can either walk the 1.4 miles to the terminal, or pick up a #76 here that will take you to the airport. Either way, the 30-minute walk or the 20-minute wait and 10-minute ride will take about as long. If you use Metrolink, your ticket will cover any Orange County buses you ride.

Long Beach Airport
All days:
This is one of the more difficult airports to get to- not because the route is complicated, but because it is long. If you're flying back into LGB, be sure to be able to leave the airport before 16:00 on a weekday, and slightly earlier on a weekend. Otherwise, you may find yourself stranded. If a friend can pick you up in San Bernardino, you can be slightly more flexible with your return trip.

Ride Metrolink to Los Angeles Union Station. Take the Red Line to 7th/Metro Centre, then catch the Blue Line to Transit Mall station. Walk across the street to the north side and catch Long Beach Transit 111 to the airport. (Do not catch #112- they may have similar routes, but 112 does not stop at the airport.) Note that your Metrolink pass will cover your transit all the way to the airport, as of writing.

On weekends: Even if Google Transit says you're stranded, keep in mind the Amtrak Southwest Chief out of Union Station at 18:45 daily. (On weekdays, you'll probably want the quicker Metrolink #412, leaving at 18:35 5 days a week. They are the same price on weekdays, though, so if you want to experience a glimpse of what a long-distance Amtrak train looks like, or want to catch a quick dinner on board, feel free to grab the Amtrak. Remember to reserve in advance, either at or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL. They'll have your tickets waiting at the station.)


Rene said...

I'm impressed by the knowledge you presented!

JN said...

Rene, I'm glad you like. The source of most of this is my own trial and error- I've done every one of these trips except for John Wayne Airport. Of course, if I can avoid flying I'll take the train, but I may well be passing through LAX this summer as well.

terry said...

If I take the MTA 232 from Long Beach to LAX, how do I get to the international terminal?

JN said...

Ride the bus to the LAX City Bus Centre, and from there you can catch a "C" airport shuttle, which stops at all terminals.

Blair said...

The LAX Flyaway bus at Union Station is no longer 3 dollars. It's 7 dollars each way and has been for some time.

JN said...

Holy crap, $7! Updates will be made. It was $3 the last time I rode it...

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the Metro Green Line light rail for LAX, even though it's not that close by. You probably know that two Metro shuttles during weekday rush hours shuttle passengers from the Aviation Station to the Airport.

JN said...

Simon- No, I didn't forget the Green Line. How could I forget LA's Almost Train? (It goes from almost the beach, almost stopping at the airport, and it almost gets you to the Metrolink in Norwalk.)

However, the Green Line is never the best way to get to LAX from Riverside. (It might be cheaper in a few circumstances, but it's never better.) This post is about how to get to the airport from Riverside, not just about how to get to the airport in general. There are literally DOZENS of buses that will take you to LAX from the greater LA area, from four different transit agencies- BBB, Culver City, Beach Cities Transit and Metro. (There may be more.) There's also the Green Line. None of them are the best option to get from Riverside to the airport, at any time of day, on any day of the week.

k said...

Hey how about public transit information for our two local airports, if any? These are NOT international airports, but one would think you could get to these destinations by public transit as well, such as for the air shows, restaurants, public events both facilities hold throughout the year.

6951 Flight Road
Riverside, CA 92504
Also located on site is Hertz Rent-A-Car (951) 687-2357, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car (951) 352-9477.
Home of Riverside Airshow and more.

A "tower free" airport
430 Mennes Avenue
Riverside [AKA West Riverside or Rubidoux], CA 92509
In 1925 FLABOB AIRPORT was Riverside's Municipal Airport.
FLABOB AIRPORT is a happening place -- a jewel in the area actually -- with opportunities for young folks to fly in a plane or for others to be taken up, flying school, various events, FLABOB AIRPORT CAFE, many opportunities for the public and much more. Learn more here
Flabob Airport is home to "Flabobians", "a village of aviation nuts" -- "stuck in the 40s and 50s time warp."
Enterprise will deliver a car to Flabob, (951) 710-5125‎.

k said...

As you are posting about International Airports, you might want to include PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, as it may be the only International Commercial Airport in Riverside County.


Driving Directions
From the West:
Exit I-10 at Gene Autry Trail (Palm Dr.) and turn right (south). Turn right on Ramon Rd., then right on Kirk Douglas Way, which leads to the Airport Terminal

Per wikipedia
Palm Springs International Airport (IATA: PSP, ICAO: KPSP, FAA LID: PSP) is a public airport located two miles (3 km) east of the central
business district (CBD) of Palm Springs, California, serving the Inland Empire Metropolitan Area of Southern California. The airport covers 940 acres (380 ha) and has two runways. It is highly seasonal, in that many flights do not operate during the summer.

Palm Springs public transit info
Amtrak (Sunset Limited line), Greyhound Bus Service [and SunLine Transit]

NOTE: Complete list of Airports in the IE Metropolitan Area

calwatch said...

Don't forget for John Wayne airport that you can exit at Main and Sky Park off Line 71, and use the long term parking shuttle to go to SNA. This was the designated route for SNA for many years and was published in old bus books. The 76 doesn't run on weekends, so this is also the only way to go to the airport via public transit those days.