Hint: It isn’t Easy
By Noel T. Braymer
I was searching the internet on how to get to LAX from Oceanside without a car. I wanted to know if it would be worth it to try to fly a bargain airline out of LAX on a trip to Europe. One airline has a flight with connections to several European cities that leaves LAX in the late morning. For me that would mean an early morning train from Oceanside to Los Angeles and getting a connection to LAX. The problem is making connections to LAX. The easiest solution would be to get off the train at LAUS and catch the Flyaway bus to LAX. But this is roundabout adding miles and time compared to a more direct connection. I would have to catch a very early train and waste time getting to LAX. I would want to get to LAX by 10:00 AM.
So I went online for ideas for getting to LAX. I found a website talking about catching a Flyaway Bus at Irvine to LAX. That would work. I doubled checked and confirmed that Flyaway no longer serves Irvine. The post I was reading was from 2011. Next I found a website that suggested catching the Grey Line Disneyland to LAX bus service. For me to catch this bus would require catching a Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART) bus from the Anaheim ARTIC transportation center to Disneyland. The problem is the Disneyland stop for the Grey Line bus to LAX is at the Disneyland Hotel which is some distance from the current ART station at the entrance to Disneyland. The Grey Line buses between Disneyland and LAX run 12 times a day, stop at all LAX terminals and at 13 hotels near Disneyland. But it doesn’t stop at the Anaheim transportation center which is also the train station.
All of this doesn’t help me this year if I want to fly to Europe out of LAX and get to the airport by 10 AM. The most viable way by train as of now from San Diego County to LAX would be to take an early morning Metrolink Orange County line train to the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Metrolink station. From there I would get a ride on an airport shuttle van which I’d have to reserve in advance to pick me up by 9:00 AM and take me to my terminal at LAX. Such van services advertise fares of $25 dollars for trips to LAX from the LA Metro area. I have ridden such shuttle vans to and from Oceanside and the San Diego Airport. The going rate was around $50 for a trip of at least 35 miles. It is just over 20 miles from Norwalk to LAX, so a fare by shuttle van of around $25 is fairly reasonable.
But of course there is still the problem of getting back home after I land at LAX. The return flight on this bargain airline is in the late afternoon. I could catch the Flyaway bus from LAX to LAUS for $8.00. I could also take a shuttle van back to Norwalk. But if I miss the last Metrolink train to Oceanside, I’d have to ride the shuttle van to Fullerton to catch an Amtrak train. I would be less pressed for time catching an Amtrak train at LAUS to get home since there are late night Amtrak trains to San Diego after the 6:40 PM departure of the last Metrolink Orange County train. I would be able to catch a bus home late at night from Oceanside up to midnight on a weekday.
The real question is why hasn’t more been done to get decent connections by rail to LAX and other major destinations in Southern California? Deals should be possible with existing services to encourage more travel by train. These include connections with shuttle vans and private bus services like Grey Line. Getting a Grey Line stop at the Anaheim transportation center shouldn’t be that difficult if it increases their ridership to LAX. This could be used by both Amtrak and Metrolink riders.This would require minimal capital investment and would be a major improvement over what exists now. For that matter Grey Line or other tourist centered bus companies should be encouraged to serve Los Angeles Union Station and promoted to encourage more train travel. But theses and other connections need to be organized, accepted by all parties and marketed. But connecting services are often found on on-line travel agents which want to sell you air fares, hotels and car rentals. With train ticketing increasingly going on line, having something on line to buy train tickets, connecting bus services and entry to major destinations out of the question?