[PDF] ACRP REPORT 4. Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation AIRPORT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM

Comparative Comfort of Transit and Automobile Public transportation not only competes with automobiles in terms of travel time, but also in terms of comfort. The experience at San Diego International Airport helps to illustrate this point. Despite having relatively frequent bus service (four to six buses per hour throughout the day), the employee transit mode share is 2%. The noted automobile-oriented culture of the region is likely a contributing factor. While it is difficult for transit to compete with the comfort that automobiles provide, passengers also perceive the need to transfer and wait as a significant “discomfort.” Thus, the closer a

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Ground Access to Major Airports by Public Transportation

service is to door-to-door service, the higher the comfort level that will be perceived. Boston’s successful Logan Express bus service provides an over-the-road coach vehicle that travels from a park-and-ride lot directly to the airport. Employees are currently entitled to free parking at the bus terminal and a significant discount on the fare.

Extent and Adequacy of the Transit Service Area All things being equal, the ultimate success of public transportation for employee mode of access will depend upon the extent and adequacy of the transit service area. The significant transit mode shares at Boston and O’Hare airports are largely due to the maturity and robustness of the regional transit system. These mature systems support high service frequency and expansive regional coverage. Conversely, another reason for the lower usage at Baltimore/Washington International Airport is the limited service area of the regional rail network, which currently has a single light rail line and a single heavy rail line. The Boston employee transit mode share is somewhat suppressed because areas north of the airport are home to many employees but these areas are not well served by transit. This latter point illustrates the importance of the adequacy of the transit service area for airport employees. Service to the airport should be placed where airport employees reside. Two of the routes of the SkyRide system in Denver are oriented to locations near the former site of Stapleton airport to serve the concentration of employees still located near the old airport. LAWA provides a convenient transportation link for airline passengers and employees working at Los Angeles International Airport who live or have destinations in the San Fernando Valley. The Van Nuys FlyAway bus service operates scheduled express buses between the Van Nuys Airport, located in the Valley, and Los Angeles International Airport. Employees are provided with free parking in a dedicated lot at the Van Nuys FlyAway terminal. The buses operate 24 hours per day with schedules designed to better meet the needs of employees. For example, buses to Los Angeles International Airport operate at 15-minute headways during employee peak hours (4:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.). Employees pay about half the regular fare and can receive a deeper discount by purchasing a book of tickets. In 1999, employee ridership represented 20% of the total ridership on the FlyAway service. In addition to providing service to areas where employees are known to reside, transit providers should consider targeting service to areas with potential employees that are likely to use transit to travel to the airport (e.g., areas with lower automobile ownership).

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