Roadrunner grounds shuttle service to LAX
About 9,000 monthly riders in Ventura County will be looking elsewhere for airport transit after Camarillo-based Roadrunner Management Services ends its shuttle service to Los Angeles International Airport on July 31.
The closure also means layoffs for 60 employees at the former family-owned business, one of the largest private transit operators in the region.
In 2018, Roadrunner’s assets were acquired by RATP Dev USA, whose Paris-based parent operates the Metro and other key elements of France’s mass transit system.
Roadrunner officials said it plans to focus on business-to-business charter services in Ventura County.
“We have had nothing but great experiences with our partners at Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) and beyond, but with the transit industry in a constant state of change, we must
strategically adapt to focus on new opportunities to grow the Roadrunner business,” said Blaine Rigler, RATP Dev USA president and CEO, in a June 7 news release.
The company said the decision comes after a recent issuance of a Request for Proposals by LAWA, which would have required Roadrunner to significantly expand its service area and fleet.
That agreement would be a step away from RATP Dev’s regional delivery model, the company said.
“Roadrunner customers are the top priority in this transition,” said Tom Wittig, Roadrunner general manager, in the news release. “We look forward to continuing the same great service via charter operations and thank our faithful ride share and black car passengers for their years of loyalty.”
Roadrunner transported nearly 110,000 people between Ventura County and LAX in 2018, according to a document filed with LAWA, which operates LAX and Van Nuys Airport.
That demand will likely be absorbed by other countywide providers or a national company that picks up Roadrunner’s contract with LAWA, said Darren Kettle, executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission.
There is a “clear market” for the service within the county, but the transportation industry has shifted to accommodate the arrival of rideshare companies that offer the same door-to-door service Roadrunner did, he added.
“The transportation world has changed quite a bit,” Kettle said. “There are a number of people who will contact a Lyft or an Uber to take that trip and do it at about the same pricing that had been offered by Roadrunner.”
For example, the price of a Roadrunner trip from Camarillo Airport to LAX ranges from $81 to $250, depending on the vehicle and passenger exclusivity. An estimated Uber trip from the same location would range from $80 to $300.
“There will be another airport service provider to provide services similar to what Roadrunner has done in the past,” Kettle said. “I think there are a lot of options out there.”
Other regional LAX shuttle providers, Santa Barbara Airbus and Ventura County Airporter, said they did not submit proposals to LAWA in response to its RFP.
Passenger counts have been climbing for the past few years at Ventura County Airporter, President and Owner Clayton Vail said.
“(Rider traffic) has been continuing to grow year over year,” she said, adding that passenger numbers have doubled in the last five years. Although she hopes that Airporter can absorb some of Roadrunner’s LAX passengers, she said it is hard to figure what this means for her business.
The company has received multiple phone calls from people asking if its shuttle service is ending, Vail said. She always reassures them the nearly 30-year-old company isn’t going anywhere.
Airporter will be bumping up its daily trips from eight to 13 in order to “accommodate more passengers on a more frequent schedule,” she said, running almost every hour of the day from Ventura and Oxnard.
It’s also waiting on a new fleet of buses that will hopefully be delivered this summer and deployed in early August. While the shuttle doesn’t offer door-to-door service, its one-way fee is $42, about half the price of Roadrunner’s.
The Santa Barbara Airbus offers LAX trips from Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria for a one-way ticket price of $55. It’s been keeping passengers updated as LAX undergoes construction, passing on announcements about things like terminal road closures, said General Manager Samantha Onnen.
In regards to Roadrunner ending its LAX service, Onnen said the Airbus is open to serving Ventura County, but only if that doesn’t impact its current business.
“We don’t have a plan, but are thinking about if there is a way we can help without impacting current services,” she said.
The RFP from LAWA expands its franchise service area to include San Fernando Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster areas along with Ventura County, Kettle said, prompting Roadrunner to discontinue a service that was already outside of RATP Dev’s public transit portfolio.
The RFP for non-exclusive operations of shared ride vehicle services closed May 14 but bid winners had not been announced as of presstime.
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