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LAX's long-promised rail link, the People Mover, likely delayed until late 2025

When construction of the Automated People Mover at Los Angeles International Airport is finished, travelers will finally have an option to avoid the airport’s dreaded traffic loop that’s become the punchline of too many jokes.

But recently it’s only added to the chaos. And now its completion date is being pushed back, one more delay in the $30-billion overhaul of the fifth-busiest airport in the world.

The project, which was originally planned for 2023, was expected to finish in 2024 but may not be ready until late 2025, according to Fitch Ratings.

On Thursday, Fitch projected an Oct. 30, 2025, completion date for the project. In January the credit agency had projected an April 2025 completion date and said that “various disagreements and disputes between the parties” and unresolved negotiations over timeline, production and compensation claims led it to downgrade the project’s bond rating from BBB- to BB+. This week it affirmed the BB+ rating

The project is about 96% complete, Fitch said, but ongoing issues could prolong its completion. The airport and contractor LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS), which is composed of several groups, agreed on a "global settlement that resolved delay claims" last April, Fitch said, but clashes have continued.

Despite the delay, the credit agency did not anticipate funding issues.

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The topic has been discussed in closed session during Los Angeles World Airports board meetings for months, according to minutes.

“The department is in active discussions with the Automated People Mover contractor to resolve outstanding claims and has no additional information at this time,” said Jessica Merritt, LAX development projects’ director of communications .

LINXS did not respond to a request for comment.

The $2-billion project, which started construction in 2019, is part of a sweeping effort to revamp busy LAX ahead of the 2026 World Cup and the 2028 Summer Olympics. The 2.25-mile elevated train will eventually take people to and from airport terminals, parking lots, the rental car facility and the Metro connector, similar to other major airports in the U.S. that swiftly shuttle travelers to and from regional rail systems.

While other major airports, including San Francisco International, accommodate public transit rail systems, Metro is about two miles short of the Los Angeles airport. The C-Line, formerly known as the Green Line, never made it to LAX largely because of pushback over safety concerns.

"The transit connection to LAX has been the white whale of L.A. rail transit. Some of that has to do with the kind of unique politics and financial structures of airports and transit agencies," said Jacob Wasserman, a public transit researcher at UCLA’s Department of Transit Studies. "There are federal rules for [the] Federal Aviation Administration that say airport money has to stay at the airport."

The People Mover was presented as a different option to bridge the gap and offer a more seamless option for travelers who rely on shuttle buses to transfer from the Metro station to the airport.

Transit experts expect the People Mover to benefit Los Angeles by improving the flow of traffic at the airport, which would make it a more competitive destination for travelers and airlines. They said the delay was disappointing, but not unexpected.

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“These are kind of the last-minute glitches that are unfortunate but not unusual,” said Genevieve Giuliano, a professor in USC’s Department of Urban Planning and Spatial Analysis.

Infrastructure projects can take time in California because of various factors including multiple environmental reviews. But by comparison to other projects in the state, such as high-speed rail, which is about $100 billion short and years away from completion, Giuliano said the People Mover has stuck closely to its budget and hasn't strayed too far from its end goal.

LAX officials said a shift to remote work has affected interstate travel, but the airport still sees hundreds of thousands of travelers each week. More than 230,000 people are expected at the airport on Friday, for example, as part of a spring break surge in travel.

In addition to travelers, the airport itself is an hub for workers across L.A. County and beyond. Wasserman said the People Mover will ultimately ease access for them too.

“The users of this system are not just tourists, or even Angelenos, who are coming home or flying out, but people who work all across the region and come from different parts of the region to LAX as a job center," he said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.