Airport to town savings


Why can’t we, here in the United States, manage to build systems to transport passengers from the town to the airport – and vice versa? I hear lots of complaining from passengers and from environmentalists, but it seems that nothing is ever done.

We like to whine. But when it comes right down to doing something concrete, we Americans seem incapable of action. We get lots of promises but little else. While the rest of the world makes life easier for travelers, we have precious little to show.

In Boston, the most expensive transportation project in the country’s history did nothing to change transport to the airport, which is right in the middle of the city. New York City has a new train (hooray) linking Newark with the city, but La Guardia and JFK connections are a mess and the promised rail links seem to be destined to be forever delayed. Chicago has a train to the planes, but it stops so often that it is only an asset during rush hour. I can’t think of any other major projects linking city and airport.

Here in the good old U.S.A. we should get ready for more of the same.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

During the past year, I have flown into or out of London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Zurich, Venice, Rome, Madrid and Paris. Each of these airports has exceptional connections with the downtown that they serve.

London, once the definition of inconvenience made worse by traffic jams, now has an exceptional train that links Heathrow Airport with the center of town in only 15 minutes. The link with the city from Gatwick by train has been a model for the rest of the world for decades.

Trains link Amsterdam’s Schipol airport at least every 15 minutes with the canals of the city center and the airport train station is one of the busiest in the country with trains fanning out to cover the country.

Frankfurt has had trains linking the airport with major cities for almost two decades. Zurich’s transport between the city center and the airport is just as good as Frankfurt’s.

Venice has transportation by vaporetto providing a beautiful and relaxing way to reach St. Mark’s, or passengers can hop a bus to reach the other end of the Grand Canal. Rome, once a center of chaos, now has very frequent trains linking the main train station with Leonardo da Vinci airport.

Paris has trains that link with the metro system. A train pass lets visitors move from the airport to the city, out to Versailles and back to the airport for a fixed price. Madrid’s new Metro station provides a fast link to virtually anywhere in the city for less than a dollar.

There is much for us to learn from the Europeans. Their transport networks make sense and work.

We should include transport infrastructure with every airport development. That is obvious. Unfortunately, I’m sure we have already had study after study completed offering different solutions. And every solution seems to have a problem, so nothing happens.

The real problem may be money.

It is not that we don’t have it. Evidently, we don’t want to spend it. Federal funding for Amtrak last year was just over $621 million. It is a joke. Especially, when it is compared to the $5 billion bailout the airlines received without a blink of the eye last September or the total of almost $18 billion they received last year (not including the $10 billion of loan guarantees that are being made available).

Change has to start somewhere. If you contact your Congressman or Congresswoman, it will be a start. Click through to this Web site to get all the contact information you need.